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Please, I'm not sure how in American English this "direct speech inside another direct speech" should be written properly. Here it is this sentence:

"He was five and a half meters from her and he was talking to her, softly. He told her: 'Please, try to calm yourself down. Everything will be OK'."

The use of the quotation marks is it correct? Thank you everybody in advance for your help!

Andrea Iovinelli

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Yes, your quote-within-a-quote is almost correctly punctuated.

  • Most style books have the final period inside all quotes, so it would end with Everything will be OK.'" (Note: this is for American English and is the method cited in Chicago Manual of Style, 13th ed.)
  • he was talking to her has its own subject, he. You would need to precede it with a semi-colon or a full stop. Or you would make drop the he. (Note: @Janusbahsjacquet calls the and a coordinating conjunction and thinks that it is fine as is.)

All in all:

"He was five and a half meters from her. He was talking to her, softly. He told her: 'Please, try to calm yourself down. Everything will be OK.'"

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    Isn't this specifically American style? Or is it British style. I know the two are different but can't remember which is which. – Mitch Aug 13 '19 at 13:03
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    five and a half meters is not a compound adjective. five-and-one-half-meter-long would be a compound adjective. x and a half - half a mile or one and a half miles are not hyphenated – Smock Aug 13 '19 at 13:34
  • 1) American style guides would generally have all punctuation inside the quotes; British ones would tend to only include punctuation in the quotes if it’s part of the quote. 2) Five and a half is not a compound adjective and should not be hyphenated. 3) There is no need for he was talking to her to be preceded by a semi-colon or full stop; a coordinator like and (as used in the question) does the job just as well. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 13 '19 at 13:36
  • Mitch, the punctuation is American style, from Chicago Manual of Style, 13th ed. – rajah9 Aug 13 '19 at 13:51
  • I have edited to remove the compound adjective bullet and to add Janus's comment. – rajah9 Aug 13 '19 at 14:00

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