Grammar 101: How to Introduce Quotes

Quotes need an introduction. Don’t let them hang out on their own:

“I was never really good at anything except for the ability to learn.” Kanye West said this.

You can integrate a quoted phrase into your sentence.

Kanye West claims to be bad at everything except “the ability to learn.”

There are two ways to introduce whole-sentence quotes: the colon, and the comma.

Using a Colon

Use a colon when the part before the quote could stand alone as a complete sentence.

I tried to make light of the situation: “It’ll turn out fine.”

Do not use a comma in this situation.

I attempted to create rapport, “My name is George, and I’m here on behalf of the public defender’s office.”

You should also use a colon after an introductory phrase like “thus” or “as follows.”

Stewart defined it thus: “I know it when I see it.”

Using a Comma

Use a comma after “said,” “writes,” “replied,” “asked,” and similar verbs.

I attempted to create rapport, saying, “My name is George, and I’m here on behalf of the public defender’s office.”

You can also attribute the quote with a phrase like “he said” or “I said.”

“My name is George, and I’m here on behalf of the public defender’s office,” I said.

If you use this method, you’re allowed to break the quote into smaller pieces.

“My name is George,” I said. “I’m here on behalf of the public defender’s office.”

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