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I'm having trouble deciding how to punctuate and capitalize commands and other single words of dialogue:

1a. When I say "start," I want you to...

or

1b. When I say "Start," I want you to... Also, does this need a comma?

2a. Martha and Bill waved their hands, yelling "Stop!" as loudly as possible.

2b. Martha and Bill waved their hands, yelling "stop!" as loudly as possible. Does this need a comma?

3a. He made eye contact, calling out "Taxi!"

3b. He made eye contact, calling out "taxi!" Are any commas necessary here?

Are the rules here inflexible? It's causing me a great deal of headache!

Ian

 

Original Post
@iankms posted:

I'm having trouble deciding how to punctuate and capitalize commands and other single words of dialogue: . . . Are any commas necessary here?

Hello, Ian—Sorry for the delay. Your punctuation questions are interesting and remind me of ones asked here a long time ago by a member named Weave. If you search for his threads, you will find plenty of head-scratching issues.

I recommend using a capital letter at the beginning of the quoted single-word command, since each single-word command is a single-word sentence, and sentences, as you know, conventionally begin with a capital letter.

I like it that you have not used commas before the commands in your example set. That would be awkward, especially when the sentence continues afterwards. Here is a relevant F. Scott Fitzgerald quotation I've come across:

Quote:

He went out of the room calling "Ewing!" and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925), Chapter 5

Last edited by David, Moderator

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