The Difference Between Direct and Indirect Quotations
When you write a person’s exact words, it is called a direct quotation. You use quotation marks around a direct quotation. The verbs most often used with direct quotations are said and asked. The word said means that someone spoke words. It is used for imperative, declarative, and exclamatory sentences. The word asked means that someone presented a question. It is used for interrogative sentences.
Examples of direct quotations:
“Pam had a job,” said Dad.
“Is Mom sad?” asked Ned.
When you write what a person said but not his/her exact words, it is called an indirect quotation. For these quotations, you don’t use quotation marks. The phrase most-often used with indirect quotations is said that.
Examples of indirect quotations:
Dad said that Pam had a job.
Ned asked if Mom was sad.
Teacher's Note: Students should note that verb tenses can change in indirect quotations, but right now, they should focus on the quotation marks.
Using Direct and Indirect Quotations
Use quotation marks before and after a person's exact words.
"The dog ran on the sod," said Mom.
If a person's words are interrupted by other words in the sentence, use quotation marks only around the person's exact words.
"That sod," he said, "was a big job."
Capitalize the first word in a quotation, even if it's not the first word in the sentence.
Mom said, "The dog is in the den."
After an interruption, do not capitalize the next word unless it starts a new sentence.
"The dog," Mom said, "is in the den."
"That is good," Dad said. "He gets no ham."
Use a comma to divide the spoken words from the speaker. Always place the comma before the quotation marks.
Mom said, "He will beg."
"He will beg," Mom said.
If the spoken words end in a question or an exclamation mark, do not use a comma afterward to separate the words from the speaker.
"Is Jen in bed?" he asked.
"I am in the den!" she shouted.
Always put a period inside the end quotation mark. Put a question or an exclamation mark inside the quotation mark if the spoken words are themselves a question or an exclamation.
He said, "You have a job."
She asked, "What is it?"
Use a new paragraph, and indent each time the speaker changes.
Dad said, "You and I will fix the sod. After
that, you can go to bed."
Jen said, "That bad dog!" Dad led Jen to
"No ham for you!" Mom said to the dog.
Make an activity page from the items below. Have students indicate if the following sentences are direct or indirect quotations by having them write the letter d for direct or the letters id for indirect on the blank before each sentence. Then have students add proper punctuation and quotation marks. The first two are done.
1. Dad said to come to the den. _id_
2. “What is in the den?” asked Sam. _d_
3. Your mother wants a map said Dad ___
4. Dad said that Mom and Jan’s mom want to go to The Red Hen ___
5. I put the map to The Red Hen in the den said Dad ___
6. Jan said that Dad and Sam went to get the map ___
7. Dad said get this map to Mom Is that OK ___
8. Can I have Jan help me asked Sam ___
9. Dad said it was OK for Jan and Sam to get the map to Mom ___
10. Your mom will be so glad said Dad ___
NOTE: Information in this blog post is adapted from the Decoding Strategies for Literacy Development manual published by Reading Horizons and is used with permission.