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I read somewhere that you should always add a comma after "said" and quotation marks around whatever word comes after "said," no matter how short the phrase is. Is this entirely true? Here's what I mean:

"He said, 'Yes.'"

Are the comma and quotation marks really necessary? How about in this example:

"I'm sorry I didn't say, 'Please.'"

Would a comma and quotation marks always go after "said" no matter how short the phrase is?

  • A similar question appears to be answered pretty well here: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/8242/… – Alan Kessler Apr 28 '17 at 5:19
  • It doesn't have the answer I'm looking for! – A Big Bear Apr 28 '17 at 5:25
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    Addressed and answered at Punctuation in an indirect quotation. << Nowadays, we often use quote-like structures for report structures, with the same verbs, so I would argue that the following are all quite acceptable: She wished him "Happy Birthday!" [salutation capitalised for emphasis as with a title] // She wished him Happy Birthday. [report structure mimicking quote structure] // She wished him a happy birthday. >> ... – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '17 at 8:53
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    The middle example is applicable here, though capitalisation would not be used with He said yes; He asked us why etc. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '17 at 8:56
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Whoever told you that you must always use a comma or quotation marks after "said" was mistaken. You use quotation marks if you're about to introduce a direct quotation that is unique enough to deserve direct attribution, but the word "said" or "say" can also be followed by a description of what is said; It does not have to be a direct quote.

"You're really going to enjoy eating that apple," she said.

She said I'd like the apple, but I didn't.

If you were to write:

She said, "I'd like the apple..."

it implies that she said those exact words, and therefore that she was the one who would like the apple.

If the word or phrase is very short or common, it usually doesn't need to be attributed as a direct quote.

She said please, so I gave her the cake.

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