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When writing dialogue and dialogue tags, I have always asked myself if the tag is a complete sentence. If so, I use a comma and lower case such as:

She said, "Bob."
"Bob," she said.

"She said" isn't a full sentence on its own (in this context), so I use a comma instead of a period. I know this is correct. However, when it has either an exclamation mark (!) or a question mark (?), such as:

"How are you doing?" she asked.

I use lower case for "she." Is this correct? Or should it be capitalized, since "How are you doing" ends with punctuation that is not a comma?

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  • 5
    You're correct. "Where?" she asked. "No!" he yelled. In such cases these punctuation marks do not mark the end of a sentence, Jan 10, 2020 at 5:33
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    Does this answer your question? Does the word after a question mark start with a capital letter? User 1579 includes this case in their answer to the cited duplicate. Essentially, we don't have a comma variant of the question mark, so the original has also to serve where there would be a comma in non-interrogative speech before the dialogue tag. Similarly with the exclamation mark. Apr 7 at 18:36

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Yes, everything above is correct as far as I'm concerned. But don't forget about these kinds of scenarios:

Like phrase A) "How are you doing?" she asked.

As opposed to B) "How are you doing?" She asked it like she already knew the answer.

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  • @tchrist: Is it that 's' of 'she' in B) should only be in lower case? I too have this doubt.
    – Ram Pillai
    Mar 11, 2020 at 6:42
  • No; the point was that it is a separate complete sentence and not an addition to the quote.
    – Syre Fayne
    May 2, 2020 at 1:38
  • You have a choice with "How are you doing?" S/she asked as if she already knew the answer. Apr 7 at 18:35

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