For example, if writing:

I thought, she may miss him, but tonight you can't tell.

should there be a comma after 'I thought', or any other punctuation for that matter? I know commas are often used if the context is 'I said', followed by the speech,

e.g. I said, 'stop that car!'

but I'm not sure if it works the same when using thoughts and italics!

Thank you!

  • It works, all right.
    – Ricky
    May 1, 2019 at 13:41

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can separate any reporting clause from direct speech or direct thoughts with a comma. Cambridge explains the rule with literally spoken words, but the same is true for thoughts and for methods of representing quotation like italics. Grammar Book gives this example:

I lied, Charles thought, but maybe she will forgive me.

Even without italics, the comma separates the reporting clause (Charles thought) from the thoughts. Here's an example from Daily Writing Tips.

It seemed a needless thing to do, Rachel thought.

Again, the reporting clause (Rachel thought) is separated from the thought. The absence of quotation marks or italics doesn't matter.

  • What if the italicized thought ends with a question mark or exclamation point? Should a comma come after the ending punctuation? See the second comma in this example: Nice going, Robert!, I thought sarcastically.
    – The Editor
    Apr 11, 2021 at 1:27

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