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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.

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  • Yes, I would say that it does. – Kate Bunting Jun 30 '20 at 18:00
  • 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.) – Jason Bassford Jun 30 '20 at 19:01
  • @JasonBassford So should there be a comma in my example? – alexchenco Jul 2 '20 at 11:37
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    @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. – Jason Bassford Jul 2 '20 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? – alexchenco Jul 2 '20 at 16:59
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"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.

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