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Note 164 – Should you put quotation marks around thoughts?

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  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.

This blog post forms part of my writing challenge. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter or my ‘Tips and LuxuriesFacebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.

Until tomorrow…

Freelance writer
Please visit for more information on my services as a freelance writer.

My writing challenge

My other blog

My Tips and Luxuries website
(includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

Clarity works:


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


2 thoughts on “Note 164 – Should you put quotation marks around thoughts?

  1. This was very helpful, she thought. LOL Thanks. I’ve been writing web articles for so long that all of my “conversational grammar” knowledge was long forgotten. I was writing, I was stuck on the grammar, and there you were. 🙂 Many thanks. (good link BTW-awesome)

    Posted by LJ | August 30, 2013, 9:36 pm

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