"Oh that's just great," says Ron.

"It's in the box," answers Ron.

"Where is my lion?" asks Ron.

I don't know if this is or isn't the right way to use it.

  • Yes. Aside from my minor correction to the third example, these are all standard ways to write direct quotes. You don't need to capitalize after a question mark or exclamation point that's inside the quote. – Andrew Sep 9 '17 at 15:45
  • @Andrew: Depends what you mean by "standard". The subject-verb-object (S-O-V) sequence is far more common in English, so you'd normally expect Ron says "Oh that's just great". I'd also point out that if the subject is a pronoun then OP's O-V-S sequence "Oh that's just great" says I is even more "marked". You'd probably only come across it in very old texts, stylised children's stories, or dialectal / uneducated speech. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 9 '17 at 16:47
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    If I was quoting someone directly in speech, which I don't often do, I'd use SVO. But if I was writing a story, I'd be more likely to use OVS or OSV. I find OVS and OSV work more or less equally well, unless the subject is a pronoun, in which case OSV is much more natural, as @FumbleFingers says. There's also VSO; I'd never use this, but my local newspaper used to do this a lot (Said Councillor Smith, 'The planning application will be considered next week.'). – rjpond Sep 9 '17 at 17:44

There are a few cases in English where full inversion (verb + subject) will be allowed in statements. By "full inversion" we mean not merely placing the operator or auxiliary before the subject, but placing the full verb before it.

One of the cases of full inversion occurs after a topicalized object in reported speech. If the subject is a pronoun, there is usually no inversion:

'Oh no!' said the girl.

BUT 'Oh no!' she said.

Most other cases of full inversion occur after a topicalized adverbial or complement:

  • There goes my train (BUT: There it goes.)

  • Now comes the time. (BUT: Now it comes.)

  • Awaiting them stood a group of heavily armed soldiers.

| improve this answer | |
  • What's more, direct speech often shows O-V-S (as in your example 'Oh no!' said the girl). ('Oh no!' is the object of the verb said.) The other examples you give of full inversion show V-S but they don't show O-V-S. So that's interesting... But I don't think you should have a comma after the exclamation mark. Either 'Oh no!' or 'Oh no,' would be more conventional. – rjpond Sep 9 '17 at 16:16
  • @rjpond I will edit my answer by eliminating the comma. I did mention that what preceded the verb was a topicalized object. – Gustavson Sep 9 '17 at 16:18

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