A quick question about commas in dialogue

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Ulysses5284
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A quick question about commas in dialogue

Postby Ulysses5284 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:43 pm

Hello, everyone!

This may seem like a silly issue. I've looked everywhere and can't find information as to whether I use a comma in a particular setup. I'll give an example:

"Does anyone know how to use this comma correctly," he shrugged "because I don't have the foggiest clue?"

First off, I know that is a terrible bit of writing. But I'm tired and wanted to get the point across as quickly as possible. I"m just not sure if there should be a comma after the word shrugged in a setup like this. As in, do you add a comma when breaking up a single line of dialogue? Or is it acceptable to leave the comma out, especially if the break comes in the dead center of a spoken sentence?

Anyway, just want to say thank you in advance. Everyone is so helping on here and I truly appreciate all the help I've been given up to this point. To show how hillbilly I can be: I hope y'all have have a wonderful evening. Take care!

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disgruntledpeony
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Re: A quick question about commas in dialogue

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:11 pm

There should be a comma after the word shrugged, yes. wotf008
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R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, ?, ?

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Ulysses5284
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Re: A quick question about commas in dialogue

Postby Ulysses5284 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:56 pm

Thank you so much!

Andy Dibble
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Re: A quick question about commas in dialogue

Postby Andy Dibble » Mon Feb 03, 2020 4:03 am

I agree that grammatically you would want to use a comma after shrugged. But given that you can't shrug speech, I think

"Does anyone know how to use this comma correctly?" He shrugged. "Because I don't have the foggiest clue."

is better. The shrugging needs to be distinct from the speaking, so it should be a new sentence. It's not properly a dialog tag at all.

Incorporating a non-dialog tag action within the middle of a sentence of dialog is kind of cumbersome, but you sometimes see:

"Does anyone know how to use this comma correctly"--he shrugged--"because I don't have the foggiest clue?"

If we have a miraculous species that shrugs to talk (and thus "he shrugged" is a dialog tag), an alternative would be:

"Does anyone know how to use this comma correctly?" he shrugged. "Because I don't have the foggiest clue."

The point is that as long as the dialog tag breaks up a single sentence of dialog, you need commas before and after the tag. If it's at the end of a sentence of dialog, you don't need the comma after the tag.
35.2 R
35.3 R
35.4 R
36.1 First Place
36.2 HM

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AlexH
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Re: A quick question about commas in dialogue

Postby AlexH » Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:38 pm

What Andy says is my understanding. If the action isn't directly referencing the speech e.g. she said/he mumbled, then there should be a full-stop before the action. Not a great example, but:

Wrong:
"I can jump this fence," he tripped and hit his head.

Correct:
"I can jump this fence." He tripped and hit his head.
35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM ?

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