1. What is dialogue?
2. Punctuation rules for dialogue
3. Internal dialogue (thoughts)
4. What next?
Dialogue is notoriously complicated to punctuate and many writers struggle to get it right. It also doesn’t help that there is a difference in the way dialogue is punctuated between New Zealand English and American English. But readers will notice if you get it wrong (even if they can’t say why they think it’s wrong!).
Just like all punctuation, dashes provide information so that we can understand the intended meaning and nuances of a sentence.
Hyphens, en dashes and em dashes (also call en rules and em rules) all have different roles to play, but many people don’t know what each of them does – or have never noticed that there are actually three types of dashes. And it doesn’t help that only one is easily found on the computer keyboard.
What’s the time, Mr Wolfy?
Four o’clock ... or is it 4 pm? Or 4.00 p.m.?
This was a game I played when I was young. But I never had to write it down. What if you did? How would you write it?
It can be confusing when deciding how to write times and dates, especially with so many different ways of doing it.
Is it Charles' book or Charles's book?
And is it right or wrong when we see signs in supermarkets selling banana's and apple's?
And finally, if the Jones family own a house. Whose house is it? The Jones’s house, the Jones’ house or the Joneses’ house?
Let’s go back to the basics to work it out.
Is it colour or color? Behaviour or behavior?
Most New Zealanders know that New Zealand English (NZE) uses colour and behaviour, following British English (BrE) spelling.
So, are there any differences between NZE and BrE spelling?
Is it I burned the toast or I burnt the toast?
What sounds the most natural to you? Is one more correct than the other? Does one sound more old-fashioned than the other?
And, which one is correct for New Zealand English?
I am in New Zealand and I am frustrated that my cellphone is programmed to US English (and I can’t figure out how to change it) so I end up using -ize endings when I use predictive text. I sometimes wonder if people think that I don’t know the correct spelling for New Zealand English. Do they even know if it is wrong in New Zealand English?
I wonder if US English-style predicative text usage has a part to play in the confusion that surrounds whether to use -ise or -ize endings in New Zealand English.
Quotation marks (also called quote marks, speech marks or inverted commas) are used to mark text representing dialogue or quoted material.
They can also be used for ‘scare quotes’ (see what I did there?) and are used to show that a term is sarcastic, slang, a term that would not normally be used in that style of writing, or to isolate the term for attention.
New Zealanders are exposed to an increasing mix of American and British books. Our brains merge the two grammar systems until we no longer know instinctively what is right for New Zealand English.
So, where does the punctuation go with quotation marks in New Zealand English?
Just to make it confusing, there is a traditional answer and a modern answer.
Marja Stack is a copy-editor and proofreader based in New Zealand. Her business, Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, caters to all writers of fiction or non-fiction books. For more information or enquiries for how she can help you make your book shine, please see her website: www.clearlingo.co.nz.
New Zealand English Series
*How to punctuate dialogue
*NZE: hyphens, en dashes and em dashes
*NZE: How to write times and dates
*NZE: Is our spelling different?
*NZE: Burned vs Burnt
*NZE: Using Māori words in English text
*NZE: -ise vs -ize endings
*NZE: Single or double quote marks
*NZE: Punctuation inside or outside quotation marks?
The Editing Process
*When is my book ready for publishing?
*Types of editing
*5 things to tell your editor
*The revision and editing process
*What are beta readers?
*What to expect when you get your manuscript back
*How to order the pages of a book
*Fact checking fiction writing
*Formatting your manuscript for submission
*How long does it take to edit a book?
*Why I belong to editing associations
* How to write recipes for cookbooks and blogs
*How to use Tracked Changes in Word
*How to use basic Word Styles
*How to fix common formatting errors in Word