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Speech Marks: How to Use Them

In this worksheet, students revise how to punctuate direct speech, including the use of a comma before closing speech marks.

'Speech Marks: How to Use Them' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Grammar and Vocabulary

Curriculum subtopic:   Extend and Apply Grammatical Knowledge

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

In writing, we use speech marks (also called inverted commas) to show the actual words that somebody speaks. This is called direct speech.

 

It is important to remember to use other punctuation as well as the speech marks.

for example:

"I live in Newcastle," said Tom.

In this sentence there is a comma after the word 'Newcastle' but before the closing speech marks.

 

If the order of the sentence is changed so that the direct speech is at the end, then the punctuation is different.

Tom said, "I live in Newcastle."

There is a comma after the word 'said' and a full stop after the word 'Newcastle' but before the closing speech marks.

 

If the speech ends in an exclamation mark or a question mark, then that comes before the closing speech marks and a comma is not needed.

"Go away!" shouted Pete.

"Are you listening?" asked Jonny.

 

The words 'shouted' and 'asked' do not need capital letters even though they come after an exclamation mark and a question mark.

 

If the word order is changed the sentences look like this:

Pete shouted, "Go away!"

Jonny asked, "Are you listening?"

 

The first word of the direct speech always begins with a capital letter even if it is not the start of the sentence.

 

It is common in books for a single speech mark to be used instead of two. This is done on your keyboard by using the apostrophe key.

Pete shouted, 'Go away!'

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

"What time is it"? asked Jacob.

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

'I hate school!' Screamed Nell.

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

Sally said, "I am looking forward to my holiday in Spain."

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

"Shut the window" ordered Mr Brown.

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

The ticket collector said, "All tickets from Birmingham, please."

Correct

Incorrect

There are quite a few things wrong with this sentence, how many errors can you spot?

 

are we there yet asked Joey

3

4

5

6

Look at the sentence below, can you correct it by adding all of the necessary punctuation?

Tom thinks he has written the following sentence out with the correct punctuation.  Natasha thinks that he hasn't got it right.  Which one of them is correct?

 

Paul asked, "can I come to the dance with you?"

Tom

Natasha

What did Tom get wrong in the sentence below?

 

Paul asked, "can I come to the dance with you?"

He did not use a capital letter for Paul

He did not use a capital letter for 'can'

He forgot to use a full stop at the end of the sentence

He should have used single quotation marks to show speech

Natasha has now attempted a question.  

 

How long have you lived here asked Christopher

 

Mr Thomas says that she is incorrect and should try again so she writes out 4 options below.  Which of her attempts is correct?

"How long have you lived here?" asked Christopher

"How long have you lived here!" asked Christopher.

"How long have you lived here," asked Christopher.

"How long have you lived here?" asked Christopher.

  • Question 1

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

"What time is it"? asked Jacob.

CORRECT ANSWER
Incorrect
EDDIE SAYS
With these questions, we need to focus on the punctuation. Look really carefully at all of the punctuation in these questions and think about what you know. If you are not sure, why not look through the introduction again? Did you spot the mistake? The question mark should come before the closing speech marks as it is part of the sentence being asked.
  • Question 2

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

'I hate school!' Screamed Nell.

CORRECT ANSWER
Incorrect
EDDIE SAYS
There was another error here, did you find it? The word 'screamed' does not need a capital letter. Look through the introduction at the examples there if you are still not sure. We don't include a capital letter as that would suggest the start of a new sentence. We can see that 'screamed Neil' is not a sentence.
  • Question 3

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

Sally said, "I am looking forward to my holiday in Spain."

CORRECT ANSWER
Correct
EDDIE SAYS
Finally, this one is right! The speech marks are in the correct place and the punctuation before and after the speech marks is spot on! As this is a complete sentence and nothing follows on after the word 'Spain' the full stop must be within the speech marks.
  • Question 4

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

"Shut the window" ordered Mr Brown.

CORRECT ANSWER
Incorrect
EDDIE SAYS
This one was tricky as you could be forgiven it looked correct, but there is one thing missing... There should be punctuation before the closing speech marks. Depending on how Mr Brown gave his order, either a comma or an exclamation mark should be used.
  • Question 5

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is punctuated correctly or not.

 

The ticket collector said, "All tickets from Birmingham, please."

CORRECT ANSWER
Correct
EDDIE SAYS
Are you getting the hang of this now? The comma is in place after the word 'said' and the sentence spoken by the ticket master is correctly punctuated.
  • Question 6

There are quite a few things wrong with this sentence, how many errors can you spot?

 

are we there yet asked Joey

CORRECT ANSWER
5
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot the five issues with this sentence? Here is the sentence punctuated correctly below: "Are we there yet?" asked Joey. 1) Open speech marks 2) Capital letter for 'Are' 3) Question mark after 'yet' 4) Closed speech marks 5) Full stop at the end
  • Question 7

Look at the sentence below, can you correct it by adding all of the necessary punctuation?

CORRECT ANSWER
Andrew said, "It's time to go home."
EDDIE SAYS
There were quite a few mistakes in this sentence too, someone has not studied the correct way to use speech marks! 1) There should have been a comma after 'said' to show the pause the speaker would take. 2) The speech marks need opening before 'It's' 3) 'It's' needs a capital letter 4) There needs to be a full stop after 'home' to show this is the end of the sentence 5) The speech marks need closing to show the end of the speech Did you get all of that?
  • Question 8

Tom thinks he has written the following sentence out with the correct punctuation.  Natasha thinks that he hasn't got it right.  Which one of them is correct?

 

Paul asked, "can I come to the dance with you?"

CORRECT ANSWER
Natasha
EDDIE SAYS
Natasha is right, it is a tiny error that Tom has made but it is important. Did you spot it?
  • Question 9

What did Tom get wrong in the sentence below?

 

Paul asked, "can I come to the dance with you?"

CORRECT ANSWER
He did not use a capital letter for 'can'
EDDIE SAYS
Tom did make a very small mistake, but as we are learning small mistakes can cost us marks! Did you see that he forgot to begin the first word inside the speech marks with a capital letter? Hopefully, he will remember for next time now!
  • Question 10

Natasha has now attempted a question.  

 

How long have you lived here asked Christopher

 

Mr Thomas says that she is incorrect and should try again so she writes out 4 options below.  Which of her attempts is correct?

CORRECT ANSWER
"How long have you lived here?" asked Christopher.
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot Natasha's correct answer? The trick to getting this right is taking your time and checking really carefully. The first option looks correct but under closer scrutiny, you can see that there is no full stop at the end of the sentence. Seems a small mistake but it's really important!
---- OR ----

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