There should be a comma in cases like this:

"I don't care," he said.

How about in cases like this?

I said(,) "Hello" to each of them.

The Grammabook site has a rule that says:

Rule 13c. If a quotation functions as a subject or object in a sentence, it might not need a comma.

Examples: Is "I don't care" all you can say to me?

I'm not very sure, though, if this applies to my example.

  • Yes, I would say that it does. Jun 30, 2020 at 18:00
  • 1
    Rule 13c is not about spoken speech. The quotation marks denote a phrase as a phrase, not dialogue. Although quotation marks can be used this way, the more stylistically common way of showing it is with italics. The second example you provide is ambiguous. It's not clear if it's describing what he actually said at the time (in which a comma would be used) or if it's describing, in narrative, the words that were provided (in which case no comma would be used—and more often it would be in italics.) Jun 30, 2020 at 19:01
  • @JasonBassford So should there be a comma in my example?
    – wyc
    Jul 2, 2020 at 11:37
  • 1
    @alexchenco In the first example, yes. In the second example, it's not clear; as I said, it's not explicitly obvious what's being expressed—direct speech or reported speech. I would tend to assume reported speech, since I'd interpret it as somebody saying the word hello on multiple occasions to different people (to each of them in turn) rather than saying, "Hello," to multiple people on a single occasion at the time being written about. Jul 2, 2020 at 14:01
  • "... rather than saying, "Hello," to multiple people ..." I couldn't help to notice that you added a second comma after "Hello." Maybe it is required in this kind of construction?
    – wyc
    Jul 2, 2020 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


"Hello" is the object of the verb phrase I said, so no comma is required, nor is it admissible.

Thus: I said "Hello" to each of them.

To make it clearer, the sentence is analogous to the following:

I gave a book to each of them.

It would be incorrect to place a comma after the verb:

*I gave, a book to each of them.


The answer you have accepted is in fact not correct. From ancient to modern times (e.g. 1 Cor 15:27 (ASV, Darby, ESV)), quotes have been set off from the main text by commas. Observe that the ESV's rendering of that verse, as well as all other quotations is, in accordance with modern English, done using not only the two commas but also the opening and closing quotation marks.

For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. [See the full context at the link.]

So if you want to follow the ad-hoc customs that English writers have been following for centuries, then the reason to insert commas is not because of grammatical function at all, since the quoted example clearly has "all things are put in subjection" as the object of "says", and yet the translator inserted a comma in-between!

However, if you want to be logical and ignore the established customs in written English, then you ought to write:

For [it says] “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”. But when it says “all things are put in subjection”, it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.

This logical version properly respects the status of quoted phrases as strings, so we would not be at liberty to use the full-stop in the quotation to double as the full-stop outside, nor would we insert any spurious comma at the end of the quotation since it literally does not occur in the original. (This fact is absolutely clear in the above example!) Naturally, there would also be no comma before the quotation, but that is really the least of your worries if you are trying to convince a publisher to let you use logical quotations...

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