3
  • 'Everything's going to be all right.', I kept telling myself.

  • "Everything's going to be all right.", I kept telling myself.

Here, I didn't say "everything's going to be all right" out loud. What punctuation would be most appropriate here? Can we use anything other than italics to convey we said something to ourselves (not out loud) in the past?

  • If you only had to choose between these two, I would go with the first one. The reason is double quotes are almost always used to represent other people's words. Anyways, here's a helpful answer from a similar question: english.stackexchange.com/a/157919/197312. – user42004 Sep 21 '16 at 1:40
  • 1
    British style is to use single quotes; American style, double. There is no usage specific to one's own or another person's thoughts or words. In either case, do not include the full stop/period, and move the comma to within the quotes: 'Everything's going to be all right,' I kept telling myself. – P. E. Dant Sep 21 '16 at 1:42
  • I kept telling myself that everything was going to be all right. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 21 '16 at 9:43
  • I have downvoted because literary punctuation is not subject to the same demands as expository prose. The author of fiction has considerable freedom to deviate from "standard" practice. This question is better asked on a writer's site, not on ELL. Either that, or we create a separate tag for such questions, literary punctuation. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 21 '16 at 9:49
1

You have a number of strategies at your disposal here. They involve choice of tense, punctuation alternatives, and lack of punctuation.

You can avoid the "problem" you're creating for yourself by using a that-clause.

I kept telling myself that everything was going to be all right.

You can put the thought in italics, introduced by "I kept telling myself".

I kept telling myself everything is going to be all right.

You can drop "I kept telling myself" and just state the fact in italics.

Everything is going to be all right. Everything is going to be all right.

so that the reader is "listening in" as you buck yourself up.

A variant of that would be to make this statement several times, but not in immediate succession:

Everything was going to be all right.

thereby dissolving the boundary between character and narrator.

You can surround the thought in quotation marks.

I kept telling myself, "Everything's going to be all right".

You can employ an em-dash

Everything's going to be all right — I kept telling myself.

You can simply introduce the phrase:

I kept telling myself, everything's going to be all right, .

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.