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Does a comma have to be used before a quotation?

Please let me know which of the two examples below are correct:

Example a: And he said "where are my chips?"  
Example b:And he said, "where are my chips?"

In b), I've placed a comma before the opening quote.

What is the correct usage? And if someone can point me to an external reference, that would be even better.

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marked as duplicate by Marthaª, Alenanno, RegDwigнt May 13 '11 at 14:38

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This is called direct speech, and it does require a comma before the quotation. So, the second one is the right one. The opposite, that is,

And he asked where were his chips.

is called reported speech.

Here’s a link to Wikipedia.

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Yes, it appears that the comma is required. Here's a more reliable source that I've found: owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/577/01 –  Ray May 13 '11 at 14:24
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In the classical English grammar we were early taught in school, example b is correct. In current usage, I believe either is acceptable. In my writing, I've begun consciously to drop that comma.

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