Chicago Style Workout 24: Commas with Quotations and Questions

Go for the Extra Points!

This month’s workout, “Commas with Quotations and Questions,” is taken from CMOS 17, paragraphs 6.40–42. Advanced editors might tackle the questions cold; learners can study paragraphs 6.40–42 of the Manual before answering the questions.

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Note: Dictionaries and style guides sometimes disagree. These questions are designed to test knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style, which prefers Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. Other style guides may follow a different dictionary.

Chicago Style Workout 24: Commas with Quotations and Questions (CMOS 6.40–42)

1. An independent clause quoted in the form of dialogue or from text and introduced with said, replied, asked, wrote, and the like is usually introduced with a comma. {She replied, “I hope you aren’t referring to us.”}
a.  
b.  
2. Commas are required regardless of the position of the explanatory text relative to the quotation. {“I hope you aren’t referring to us,” she replied.} {“I hope,” she replied, “you aren’t referring to us.”} 
a.  
b.  
3. A quotation introduced by thatwhetherif, or a similar conjunction nearly always requires a comma. {He wondered whether, “to think is to live.”}
a.  
b.  
4. {She recites her poem, “One Art,” every night before bed.} She has written many poems. Is the punctuation correct?
a.  
b.  
5. {Sid’s article “Over the Top” was featured in the movie adaptation of the book.} This is the only article Sid ever wrote. Is the punctuation correct?
a.  
b.  
6. {Of her many favorites, “One Art” is the one she knows best.} Is the punctuation correct?
a.  
b.  
7. {His favorite story in Joyce’s Dubliners is, “Counterparts.”} Is the punctuation correct?
a.  
b.  
8. A direct question that is not enclosed in quotation marks is usually introduced by a comma (unless it comes at the beginning of a sentence) and begins with a capital letter. {She wondered, What am I doing?}
a.  
b.  
9. If a direct question not in quotation marks ends before the end of the sentence, no comma is required after the question mark. {What am I doing? she wondered.}
a.  
b.  
10. Indirect questions are never capitalized (except at the beginning of a sentence). {She wondered what she was doing.} {Where to find a reliable clock is the question of the hour.}
a.  
b.  

 

Photo: Gerald Ford as a center on the University of Michigan football team, 1933. Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library.

 

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5 thoughts on “Chicago Style Workout 24: Commas with Quotations and Questions

  1. I agree that number 5 could include commas (given that Sid wrote only one article), but why would it be incorrect to omit them?

  2. How enjoyable! (And I only missed one-half of the “trick” pair, roiled by the surely-intended self doubt.)

  3. I’m confused about comma use in dialog in fiction. In the phrase Another man was told, “Confess!” by the police, is the comma needed after “told”? What about: She wanted to say, “I love you” but she was afraid of his response.
    Authors often use commas before any quoted (dialog) text, but it doesn’t seem correct.

    • Excellent question! So many readers asked this question that we decided to address it in the new edition of CMOS. Paragraph (13.15) (“No Comma to Introduce a Quotation”) says, “Many writers mistakenly use a comma to introduce any direct quotation, regardless of its relationship to the surrounding text. But when a quotation introduced midsentence forms a syntactical part of the surrounding sentence, no comma or other mark of punctuation is needed to introduce it, though punctuation may be required for other reasons.” See section 13.15 for examples.

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