When we write down the direct speech of someone, we put the words they actually say inside special marks, quotation marks.
Observe the direct speech in the Aesop Fable below. Source. The words spoken by the ducks, tortoise, and crow are place in quotation marks. The first commas ” are placed just before the first word spoken. The last commas ” are placed just after the last word spoken. Question marks and exclamation marks are place before the last commas.
The Tortoise and the Ducks
The Tortoise, you know, carries his house on his back. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot leave home. They say that Jupiter punished him so, because he was such a lazy stay-at-home that he would not go to Jupiter’s wedding, even when especially invited.
After many years, Tortoise began to wish he had gone to that wedding. When he saw how gaily the birds flew about and how the Hare and the Chipmunk and all the other animals ran nimbly by, always eager to see everything there was to be seen, the Tortoise felt very sad and discontented. He wanted to see the world too, and there he was with a house on his back and little short legs that could hardly drag him along.
One day he met a pair of Ducks and told them all his trouble.
“We can help you to see the world,“ said the Ducks. “Take hold of this stick with your teeth and we will carry you far up in the air where you can see the whole countryside. But keep quiet or you will be sorry.“
The Tortoise was very glad indeed. He seized the stick firmly with his teeth, the two Ducks took hold of it one at each end, and away they sailed up toward the clouds.
Just then a Crow flew by. He was very much astonished at the strange sight and cried:
“This must surely be the King of Tortoises!“
“Why certainly——“ began the Tortoise.
But as he opened his mouth to say these foolish words he lost his hold on the stick, and down he fell to the ground, where he was dashed to pieces on a rock.
Foolish curiosity and vanity often lead to misfortune.
Speech can also be written as reported speech. Reported speech does not use speech marks. Observe the Aesop Fable below. The speech marks have been remove, the speaker’s exact words are not used and the verbs have been changed.
The Wild Boar and the Fox
A Wild Boar was sharpening his tusks busily against the stump of a tree, when a Fox happened by. Now the Fox was always looking for a chance to make fun of his neighbors. So he made a great show of looking anxiously about, as if in fear of some hidden enemy. But the Boar kept right on with his work.
With a grin, the Fox asked the Boar as to why he was doing what he was doing. He added that he could not see any danger.
The Boar replied that that was true, but if danger did come he would not have time for such works. The Boar continued explaining that his weapons will have to be ready for use then, or he will suffer for it.
Preparedness for war is the best guarantee of peace.