I'm unclear on exactly when to use a comma or a period before a quotation. It's obvious if what comes before is a simple dialogue tag like "He said," but consider the following examples:

  • Mike was afraid to ask his next question. "Why?"
  • John sighed before answering. "Because it's my birthday."
  • Mike continued his line of inquiry. "I don't see how that matters."
  • James raised a glass. "Cheers."
  • "Stay out of it, James," said Mike with a glare before turning back to John and pressing him further. "It's my birthday too."

I've included periods in all of them (which I personally think works best) but I'm not sure if some or all should technically be commas instead. Is it just a matter of preference and style?

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  • 1-4 are correct (in my opinion) because the part before the direct speech is a complete sentence. 5 is alsocorrect if "It's my birthday too" is a new sentence. – Kate Bunting Jan 17 at 17:35

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