I have a question regarding the sentence below.

If you say “I hate grammar,” you mean “I have a lot of difficulties with understanding rules how to use words correctly.”

Is it direct speech after the word say? Is it direct speech after the word mean? (You here is used as one — "if one says.") Should I use a comma after say and/or mean? What about quotation marks?

edit: Additional question. What about the word think? An example: He thought, "Where should I go?" Is it direct speech?

  • I think that there is an implied 'to say' after 'mean'. If you say, "X" , you mean to say, "Y". Aug 19, 2015 at 0:41
  • 1
    With quotes, you and I are the same person. Without quotes, you would be reporting how someone else feels about grammar.
    – McCaverty
    Dec 9, 2016 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


First the quotation marks. If someone actually said (or wrote, or something like that) you should use the quotation marks. So if someone said "I hate grammar" quotation marks are obligatory. The second sentence, however, is not (I assume) something someone actually said, but it is an indirect quotation, and therefore it should not have the quotation marks.

For the rule about the comma see for example http://www.sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/quotes/marks. He says it is a matter of personal preference, so a comma after say is your own choice, just be consistent. A comma after mean would be wrong. There are also sources (such as this one http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/punctuation-in-direct-speech) that say that the comma is obligatory after say and not a matter of preference.

A thought can either be written between quotation marks or written in italics (see for example http://data.grammarbook.com/blog/quotation-marks/internal-dialogue-italics-or-quotes/). Some people think that using quotation marks for thought is wrong (http://www.dailywritingtips.com/dealing-with-a-characters-internal-thoughts/) and only writing thoughts in italics is acceptable (or no punctuation at all).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.