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"Study hard," said Mother.

Lesson Topic: Word Order for Quotations

In a previous lesson, we discussed how important it is to use other words for say and said.  For example, if the situation is about a man who just discovered his wallet had been stolen, the writer would NOT want to use the word said.

George discovered his wallet was stolen.  He yelled, "My wallet is missing!  Someone stole it."

Yelled is a much better word than said.  It expresses George's emotion and the whole atmosphere. To see this lesson on using words for say and said, click here

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To be a little more creative, you may want to change the word order.  This is another way to make your writing more interesting.  We could write the following:

"My wallet is missing.  Someone stole it!" George yelled.

George yelled is called the attributive phrase.  We put this attributive phrase at the end of the sentence.  We can even change the order of the words in the attributive phrase.

"My wallet is missing.  Someone stole it!"  yelled George.

Again, by using different words for say and varying the order of the words, the writing becomes much more interesting to the reader.  

You can NOT reverse the order of the words in the attributive phrase if there is a pronoun.  Take a look at the following example:

CORRECT "My wallet is missing.  Someone stole it!" he yelled
INCORRECT "My wallet is missing.  Someone stole it!" yelled he

If the quotation contains an exclamation mark (!) or question mark (?), the next word is not capitalized unless it is a name.  Take a look at this example:

"Where's my ticket?asked Mary.

This quotation ends with a question mark (?); the following word is askedAsked is NOT capitalized because, although there is a question mark (?) before asked, the sentence does not end until we write asked Mary

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Show all the different ways of writing the following sentences.

1. The chairman asked, "Where is my limousine?"


2. My sister screamed, "You took my diary!"


3. I said, "I didn't take it."


4. Amanda declared, "I will be president one day.  I will be the first U.S. president."




1.  Answer: 

"Where is my limousine?" asked the chairman.

"Where is my limousine?"  the chairman asked.

Explanation: Notice that there is a question mark (?) within the quotation marks.  If the quote should include a question mark or an exclamation mark (!), the punctuation must be within the quotation marks.  In this sentence, the question mark is used because the person asked a question.  In addition, notice that the word after the question mark does not begin with a capital letter (asked and the).  This is because the sentence is not completed until the end of the attributive phrase (asked the chairman).  This is common in all types of literature.

2.  Answer:  

"You took my diary!" my sister screamed.

"You took my diary!"  screamed my sister.

3.  Answer:  

"I didn't take it," I said.

Explanation: The comma is inside the quotation marks.  


4.  Answer:  

"I will be president one day," Amanda declared.  "I will be the first U.S. president."

"I will be president one day," declared Amanda.  " I will be the first U.S. president."

"I will be president one day.  I will be the first U.S. president," Amanda declared. 

"I will be president one day.  I will be the first U.S. president," declared Amanda.

     Explanation: There are lots of possibilities for this one.  You can break up the quote into 2 parts and put the attributive phrase in the middle, or you can keep the quote together.  It is important to note that you do NOT use a pair of quotation marks for every sentence.  You use the closing quotation marks when the quote is completed.  Then you insert another pair of quotation marks when the quote begins again.  This rule is best illustrated in the first and second sentences above.  

Rules to Remember!

1 Do not reverse the words in the attributive phrase if there is a pronoun.
2 To see our lesson on quoted speech and reported speech, click here.
3 To see our lesson on commas, click here.
4 To see our lesson on using other words for say, click here.

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