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Not sure I'm asking about direct speech here, though. Consider the sentence:

And then I thought, why do I even need this?

I believe I run into sentences like this occasionally. The correct way would likely be:

And then I thought, "Why do I even need this?"

Or maybe with colon?

And then I thought: "Why do I even need this?"

To be precise, can I not capitalize first letter of direct speech? Can I omit quotes? Should I use comma or colon?

Also, I've run into this question one of these days. Can I write:

To answer your question, no.
The answer to your question is, no.

Or

To answer your question, no, I don't think so.
The answer to your question is, no, I don't think so.

By the way, as you can see, the respondent there has omitted the quotes

To answer your question: No.

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    It depends on your context, what is your context? A novel? An online chat room? – Lambie May 30 '17 at 13:12
  • @Lambie Not a novel. Chat rooms... That's probably taking it too far. Forums, Q&A sites, blogs, places where you can use informal speech. Where you write more than one sentence at a time. – x-yuri May 30 '17 at 17:05
  • There are no rules for chat rooms. People write whatever they want. If they do not want to use punctuation, that's fine. – Lambie May 30 '17 at 17:21
  • @Lambie But I'm not talking about chat rooms here. For example, the other user on this site omitted quotes in his answer. Is this not governed by any rules? Or maybe not rules, but some conventions. Like, what punctuation people usually use under such circumstances? – x-yuri May 30 '17 at 17:33
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    Because the quotes just mean straight speech there. I was trying to show spoken language, real speech. And there was no quote within a quote. – Lambie May 30 '17 at 19:22

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