if someone is speaking out loud to themselves such in the sentence below, should it be punctuated?


Perhaps I should wait until light, he spoke out loud.

asked Jun 09 '13 at 04:10 lee leeeder New member

2 answers


Yes, punctuation is needed. 

"Perhaps I should wait until light," he spoke out loud.

link answered Jun 09 '13 at 04:14 Dr. G Contributor

Thank you. I take it, it's also the same when thinking to yourself.

lee leeederJun 09 '13 at 04:35

It's not necessarily the same thing when thinking to yourself. This is known as indirect speech, and you can include it in the body of the text without quotation marks if you wish. When something is spoken aloud it should have quotation marks, but inner thoughts can be written in the following format:

He wondered, perhaps I should wait until light? (This is known as normal indirect speech.)

Or you could write:

And perhaps I should wait until light? (This is known as free indirect speech.)

Or you could use quotation marks - it's your choice. Whatever the poetry of the moment calls for.

Kerry BonnieJun 09 '13 at 05:55

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I agree with the gist of Dr. G’s comments, as far as they go. But you cannot use the verb speak in this way.  Use say instead.  Say is always transitive, and speak can be transitive, but the object of speak is not what was said (written in either direct or indirect speech). If you are going to indicate, either directly or indirectly, what someone said, you must use the verb say, not speak.

Aside from a handful of set phrases, the only object that can be used with speak is the language, for example: She speaks German and a little bit of French. 

So, once you change speak to say, out loud is redundant (in fact, it would also be redundant if used in a correct sentence with speak) because when you say something it is obviously out loud – but you can better convey the idea of someone talking to himself by using to himself.


The revised sentence here would be "Perhaps I should wait until light," he said to himself.

link answered Jun 09 '13 at 06:11 Shawn Mooney Expert

I understand exactly what you have pointed out and thank you so much for that. It was silly of me not to pick this up in the first place.

lee leeederJun 10 '13 at 03:25

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