Although they did prefer to keep conversations short, and after some “How are you”’s and “Isn’t the weather lovely today?”’s they tended to return to whatever it was they had been doing.

Is this allowed, with or without the speech marks? If not is there any way to convey a similar meaning, of certain phrases being used many times?

  • 1
    I'd search for shorter phases to nominalize - howdy-dos. You did say they liked to keep things brief ;) – Phil Sweet May 2 at 13:38
  • 1
    It's informal with longer expressions, but not ungrammatical. – Edwin Ashworth May 2 at 13:46
  • 2
    It's allowed. There's no reason to put an apostrophe after the quote — it's a plural rather than a possessive, and except for letters (and similar things) we don't use apostrophes for plurals. And it looks better without the apostrophes, too. – Peter Shor May 2 at 13:55
  • Can't we reduce to how-are-yous and isn’t-the-weather-lovely-todays? Also, is this a complete sentence? – Yosef Baskin May 2 at 14:02
  • 1
    This is much harder to write out than it is to speak, though I suppose Elmore Leonard could show how it's done pretty effortlessly. – Robusto May 2 at 14:02


Example 1:

"It's past your bedtime," said Jan. "Go to bed."

"But—" started Ella with a whine in her voice.

"No buts," Jan quickly interrupted. "Go to bed. Now!"

Example 2:

"John?" asked Helen.








"Well, that's three yeas and one nay," responded Helen. "The motion carries."

Example 3

"That's a fine how-do-you-do!" exclaimed Henry.

"That's the third time I've heard you say that today," said Terry. "I'm starting to get worried. Those fine how-do-you-dos are really starting to add up."

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