Writing in English, if I use a foreign phrase and wish to translate it, what's the standard way to go about it?

In my example below I use a comma:

"Ces't vrai, it's true!" he enthused.

Is this correct handling? Or is a period or semi colon, or some other punctuation required?

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    Is the translation intended as a note for the reader's benefit, or did the character actually say it in both languages? Foreign phrases are often printed in italics, so you could write "C'est vrai! (it's true)," he enthused (if it's a note). Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 19:00
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    I know this is a matter of style, but I feel that adding a translation is irretrievably clunky. Either your readership, mon brave, is ready for the foreign words as they are, or if not, omit them. Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 20:28
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    Following on from Kate's answer: if it's a direct quote (even if fictional) – ie if the character uses both languages – drop the parenthetical brackets. "C'est vrai! – it's true," he enthused. I wouldn't use two exclamation marks, and feel the initial emotional slip into native tongue would be the stronger exclamation. Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


I would take the translation out of the quotes.

"C'est vrai!", it's true he enthused.

But I agree with @Michael Harvey, just leave the translation out of it. They can google it..

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