I realised today, when I was typing another blog post, that I wasn’t entirely sure if you should put quotation marks around thoughts. In the forums there was a mixture of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses and some suggested putting the thought in italics, but nothing I read seemed good enough evidence for today’s blog.
I eventually stumbled upon an excellent article called ‘Grammar tips for using quotes’ by Peggy Tabor Millin at Clarity Works http://www.clarityworksonline.com/articles/working-with-words/grammar-tips-for-using-quotes. Peggy explains that “quotation marks are used only to show something is spoken aloud” and not when writing thoughts. Italics can be used, but it is not necessary and can distract the reader. I have created some examples below, using both methods:
- I wish James would stop bullying me, Tom thought.
- Ray thought, It was tough cycling home last night.
An alternative method
If you don’t feel comfortable writing a thought without quotation marks, another way would be to say the sentence in a different way. Peggy explains that you would “simply run the thought into a sentence”, for example:
- Tom wished James would stop bullying him.
- Ray thought about how tough it was cycling home last night.
Peggy (who teaches about writing and courage) founded Clarity Works in 1996. It looks like a great site full of useful tips. She also recommends a few good books to get grammar tips from.
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- Punctuating Around Quotation Marks (nestersteachingblog.wordpress.com)