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2 Tutorials that teach Dialogue
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Author: Martina Shabram

Differentiate between dialogue that is punctuated correctly and dialogue that is not.

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Source: [image of yellow quotation marks, public domain,] [image of ruby slippers, public domain,]

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Hello, students. My name is Dr. Martina Shabram, and I will be your instructor for today's lesson. I'm genuinely excited to teach you these concepts, so let's get started.

So what's today's plan? We're going to practice working with dialogue today. We'll discuss what dialogue is and learn how to appropriately punctuate dialogue in sentences and paragraphs. Let's do this.

So what is dialogue? Well, dialogue is the way we talk about talking. It is a conversation that is recorded or invented in writing. So this means that any written dialogue is the transcription of a conversation between people-- either fictional people having a conversation that the author made up or real people having a conversation that the author accurately recorded. In narrative writing, both fictional and non-fictional dialogue is the conversations between characters. And there are lots of reasons to use dialogue in a piece of writing, but they all depend on the context of the type of writing you're doing.

So if we're going to write out some dialogue, how do we show our readers that the words are being spoken? Well, the most important tool we have is the quotation mark, which is a punctuation symbol used to set off dialogue. Setting off dialogue means distinguishing it from the other kinds of sentences and words surrounding it.

So to do this, let's come up with a quote. OK. In order to show that this is a piece of quoted text-- a piece of dialogue-- we're going to add a beginning quotation mark here and an ending quotation mark here. Now, what if we were putting this quotation into a sentence that identified the speaker? Well, then the quote would look more like this. Note that the sentence ends here, after Dorothy said.

So notice too, then, that there is a comma separating these two clauses. And where does the comma live? Inside the quotation mark. Now, that's important, because a comma is a punctuation symbol used in multiple ways to indicate a pause or particular organization. So here, the comma shows us to pause and indicates that what's inside the quotation marks is the quote and what's outside is not.

So we know that in real life, sometimes our conversations get interrupted. Well, how do we show that in writing if and when we need to interrupt a piece of dialogue to add something in? Well, again, we'll use the quotation marks and the comma to show where the dialogue is and where is isn't. Here's an example.

See how we have the comma to separate our dialogue and our interruption, then another comma again to separate the interruption and the next piece of dialogue? And then the whole sentence ends with a period inside the quotation mark.

So it's your turn. This is a sentence without any proper punctuation. Can you tell me where to put the quotation marks, period, and commas? All right. Let's start with the easiest part. Where should we put the quotation marks? Right-- around the quotation. And even if you didn't know that Dorothy said there's no place like home, you'd have a hint about where the quote starts, wouldn't you? Yep-- that introduction there, and said. Now, where should we put the period? Yep, exactly. It goes at the end of the sentence, but inside the quotation marks.

OK. Last question-- where are our commas? Well, we remember that there should be a comma to separate the quotation from an interrupting clause, but I don't see an interruption here. What I do see is an introduction. So the comma should go between that clause and the quote, right here.

So what did we cover today? We learned how to record dialogue in our writing and how to punctuate it using commas, periods, and the all-important quotation mark, and we practiced creating grammatically-correct sentences with our quotations, even when they're being introduced or interrupted.

Well, students, I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thank you.

Terms to Know

A punctuation symbol used in multiple ways to indicate a pause or a particular organization.


In writing, something that is said by a real or invented person.

Quotation Mark

A punctuation symbol that is used to set off dialogue.