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There have already been several questions here about how to use punctuation properly in the direct speech. I've looked through most of them and didn't find an answer to my case. So here I go with my case:

What punctuation will be correct in the following sentence:

He did say, "I am going to visit Jack today.", but nobody believed him.

I am especially concerned here about the proper punctuation between today and but


To make it more clear I am replacing personal pronounces with a name:

Tom did say, "I am going to visit Jack today.", but nobody believed Tom.

It was quite clear without that edit; naming Tome twice close together sounds a bit superfluous in fact... –  Cerberus Apr 15 '11 at 22:07
@Cerberus - It was quite clear without that edit - But C_P took it as if "but nobody believed him" was part of the direct speech. –  brilliant Apr 15 '11 at 22:11
Yeah, I saw that, and it surprised me very much. Such misinterpretation happens sometimes, when you experience a momentary lapse of attention, I get those too. But your question was really quiet clear. –  Cerberus Apr 15 '11 at 22:22
@Cerberus - I see. Thanks. –  brilliant Apr 15 '11 at 22:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'd never use a full stop there, nor a capital in the beginning. I'd only use end and beginning-of-sentence markers if forced to do so because I was quoting more than one sentence:

He did say, "Today I am going to visit Jack. Please do not wait up." But nobody believed him.

As you can see, I've cut the sentence up, because I do not think you can have full stops in a quote and then continue the sentence after the quote. This might be a matter of taste; I'm not sure what style book shave to say about this. Two points to consider:

  • You could use a colon after "he did say". Then you might want to make the first part an independent sentence.
  • You could put the full stop after "wait up" after the quotation marks.
What do you think about this way: He did say, "Today I am going to visit Jack", but nobody believed him. Would it be correct this way? –  brilliant Apr 15 '11 at 22:13
@brilliant: Looks good to me, except that I think I'd remove the capital T. But you'd have to look that up in a style book; and I suspect that different style books might disagree on such small points as this. –  Cerberus Apr 15 '11 at 22:14
I see. Thank you. –  brilliant Apr 15 '11 at 22:20

He did say, "I am going to visit Jack today. But nobody believed him."


He did say, "I am going to visit Jack today; but nobody believed him."

It would be: Tom did say, "I am going to visit Jack today." But nobody believed Tom.

I am sorry - My question wasn't specific enough. Please, see my edit in it. –  brilliant Apr 15 '11 at 21:52
My inclination would be: He said, "I am going to visit Jack today," but nobody believed him. The semicolon would be needed instead of a comma before "but" if you wanted special emphasis there. –  The Raven Apr 15 '11 at 23:50
@The Raven - "The semicolon would be needed instead of a comma before "but"" - Would I still a comma after "today" then? Also, may I know based on what rules you are suggesting it? –  brilliant Apr 16 '11 at 7:58

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