I am wondering if it is better to use inverted commas or italics when you mouth something, rather than say it aloud.


I cover the receiver and mouth Sorry to my friend.

Or is it better to go with:

I cover the receiver and mouth "Sorry" to my friend.

I am also wondering if Sorry should even have a capital letter or if it should be a small letter. Any thoughts?

Also, if someone's words sound in your head at some point later in a novel, should they be put in italics or inverted commas?


I think back to what Jane told me yesterday: "He'll always be haunted by her."


I think back to what Jane told me yesterday. He'll always be haunted by her.

Any thoughts on what would be best would be greatly appreciated. I have checked the Chicago style guide and am still unsure.

Thank you.

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    I'm not gonna post this as an answer because it's mostly personal opinion and observation, but in most literature I've read and the majority of examples of this kind of writing I've seen, as well as in my own writing, italics are used for dialogue that isn't actually being spoken. Thoughts, things being mouthed, etc. Quotations are reserved for those things which are actually spoken aloud, so as not to confuse the reader. – John Clifford Jan 28 '16 at 9:24
  • Thank you very much John. That is what I thought. I just recently saw it in inverted commas and second-guessed myself! Also, would you use a capital here: He mouthed bye or He mouthed Bye. I don't need a comma after mouth here I don't believe, but I am not 100% sure about the capital. Thank you! – MoniqueH Jan 28 '16 at 9:29
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    A thread on grammarbook.com about this topic would suggest a consensus of capitalising as if you'd used quotes, so Bye rather than bye. – John Clifford Jan 28 '16 at 9:32
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    As a corollary to this some people might argue that mouthing words should still use quotes; I don't think there's a particular hard-and-fast rule there, so I would personally recommend using what seems the most natural for your writing style. – John Clifford Jan 28 '16 at 9:33
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    If you google "capitalisation in italicised thoughts" it's the first result. – John Clifford Jan 28 '16 at 9:37

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