Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Direct Discourse

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Direct Discourse

Can I quote you on that? When you quote what somebody says, you create direct speech, otherwise known as direct discourse. Direct discourse is intended to describe what somebody else says or thinks. People use direct discourse in histories, essays, and argumentation. Unfortunately, quotes can also be misused.

Direct Discourse Meaning

Direct discourse is a way of capturing someone else's words.

Direct discourse is quoting someone directly.

Using direct discourse, you do not paraphrase or summarize. You write what someone said verbatim.

Recounting someone verbatim is to use their exact words.

Direct discourse is often used to quote someone's spoken word or gestural language. However, it can be used to quote anything verbatim.

Direct Discourse Example

Here is a short example of direct discourse.

Yesterday Hank said, "I've never driven a car before."

The material between the quotes is direct discourse because it is exactly what the person said.

Direct discourse has many uses in essays and argumentation.

You will see character quotations all the time in fictional stories. This is dialogue, not direct discourse, because the conversations are not real.

The Uses of Direct Discourse

Direct discourse is used to explain someone else's position or memory. If someone describes a memory of theirs, that is telling an anecdote.

Here's an example of direct discourse where someone gives their position on a memory.

In my interview with Duncan, he said, "My time abroad changed the way I see the world."

In this example, the writer quotes what Duncan said verbatim, as revealed by the quotation marks.

Writers and biographers use direct speech to support historical narratives.

In an interview with Howard Rheingold in 1991, Jerry Garcia said, "To me, that's the key thing, the pursuit of happiness. That's the basic, ultimate freedom."1

Depending on the kind of writing, you might explain someone else's position as a means of providing evidence.

Direct Discourse Used as Evidence

You might use articles and passages that include direct discourse in essays and timed tests. You can use that direct discourse as evidence.

Evidence is support for an argument.

Direct discourse is a strong form of evidence when it verifies your argument.

For instance, say that your claim is, "Jerry Garcia believed that happiness and freedom are entwined." In this case, the previous quote from Jerry Garcia would be a great piece of evidence because, in that quote, he says as much himself!

Direct discourse. Jerry Garcia plays the guitar. StudySmarter.To use direct discourse as evidence, you must use the quote accurately. Wikimedia.

Direct Discourse Used Incorrectly

Because direct discourse is a potentially strong form of evidence, some people try to fit it into their papers and arguments when it doesn't really belong. Doing this can result in twisting someone's words or misrepresenting someone.

Incomplete Quotes

Incomplete quotes don't encompass everything someone had to say about a subject.

Although this is sometimes fine to do, it isn't fine if the incompleteness changes the meaning of the complete quote. Here's an example of an incomplete quote followed by a complete quote, where the incomplete quote is disingenuous.

"Immigrants have real problems."

This sounds like an attack on immigrants.

"Immigrants experience abuse, bigotry, and lower wages than us. It isn't easy to be an immigrant; immigrants have real problems."

This complete quote accurately contextualizes the speaker's position.

Omitting Words from a Quote

Omitting words from a quote is to doctor what someone has to say about a subject.

This isn't bad if you don't have the space to quote someone entirely and the removed content isn't relevant. However, someone can easily manipulate a quote by abbreviating it.

"Quentin is a source of…hate."

That's a strong statement to make about Quentin. But is that what the author originally intended?

"Quentin is a source of love, not hate."

It's good practice not to omit words when writing or discussing direct discourse. If you omit words, you may miss the point of direct discourse, which is to quote someone verbatim.

Misapplying Quotes

Misapplying a quote is using that quote to describe something that the speaker never intended to describe.

This is never the right thing to do, period.

General Roberts said, "This is not the time to use lethal force."

However, imagine General Roberts said, "This is not the time to use lethal force" months prior when times were different. This would then be a misapplication of the quote because it never referred to the present situation.

People don't only misapply quotes to make the other person look bad. They might try to make them look better. For instance, someone might misuse the above quote to make General Roberts appear less aggressive.

Direct Discourse Rules

Knowing the rules of direct discourse will help you identify direct discourse and write it yourself. Direct discourse has two rules.

1. Make your direct discourse accurate. To do this, make sure you don't do anything described in the section, "Direct Discourse Used Incorrectly." You want to be sure your direct discourse is complete and correctly applied.

2. Punctuate your direct discourse correctly. Here are the ways you can ensure that.

Punctuation Rules in Direct Discourse

Here's a quick rundown. To quote someone in standard US English, use double quotation marks around the quoted material and no more.

If the first word inside the quotation marks begins a complete sentence, capitalize it. Also, include a comma before the quote.

Dan said, "He is my friend."

If the quote does not end in a period, put a comma inside the quote at the end.

"He is my friend," said Dan.

If the first word inside the quotation marks does not begin a complete sentence, don't capitalize it. Also, do not include a comma before the quote.

Dan said that he was "my friend."

Ordinary rules of syntax and punctuation apply in direct discourse unless they run contrary to the rules listed above.

Finally, you might need to cite your direct discourse using some form of citation. The citations you use will depend on your instructor or institution, so start the exploration of citations there!

Direct discourse. Quote bubble. StudySmarter.Some quotes require citations. Flaticon.

Direct Discourse and Indirect Discourse

You know what direct discourse is by now.

Indirect discourse is quoting someone indirectly.

The idea of indirect discourse is to capture the whole meaning of somebody's words but not to use their exact words. This is also called paraphrase.

We talked about it, and Esteban said he doesn't like rollercoasters. He'll never go on one.

This example uses indirect discourse to clarify what Esteban thinks without actually using his words. Notably, indirect discourse does not use quotation marks.

Indirect discourse is an excellent way to switch up your style. You shouldn't fill your essays with quotes. To identify indirect discourse, look for the same kinds of words that people use in direct discourse, such as names of people and the word "said."

Here is a list of words that signify direct and indirect discourse.

  • Say

  • Explain

  • State

  • Cite

  • Tell

  • Communicate

  • Posit

Look for these words in various forms! For example, look for "explained" and "explaining," too.

Direct Discourse - Key Takeaways

  • Direct discourse is quoting someone directly.
  • Direct discourse is often used to quote someone's spoken word or gestural language. However, it can be used to quote anything verbatim.
  • To use direct discourse as evidence, do not use incomplete quotes, do not omit words, and do not misapply the quote.
  • Use double quotation marks for direct discourse, and follow the other punctuation rules.
  • You might need to cite your direct discourse using some form of citation.

1 Jerry Garcia. 'Interview with Bob Weir & Jerry Garcia.' Interview Magazine. 1991.

Frequently Asked Questions about Direct Discourse

Direct discourse is quoting someone directly.

Double quotation marks in American English. Other rules of punctuation apply.

Direct discourse is quoting someone directly. Indirect discourse is quoting someone indirectly. Direct discourse uses quotation marks, while indirect discourse does not.

In an interview with Howard Rheingold in 1991, Jerry Garcia said, “To me, that’s the key thing, the pursuit of happiness. That’s the basic, ultimate freedom.”

The comma in direct speech is situational. Here are several correct uses of the comma in direct speech. 

  • Dan said, “He is my friend.”
  • “He is my friend,” said Dan.
  • Dan said that he was “my friend.”

Final Direct Discourse Quiz

Question

What is direct discourse?

Show answer

Answer

Direct discourse is quoting someone directly.

Show question

Question

"Direct discourse uses paraphrase and summary to capture someone's words fully."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False. Paraphrase and summary do not capture someone's words fully.

Show question

Question

"When creating a direct discourse, you want to capture someone's words verbatim."

True or false, and what does verbatim mean?

Show answer

Answer

True. Recounting someone verbatim is to use their exact words.

Show question

Question

If you quote a novel, is that creating direct discourse?

Show answer

Answer

Yes, if the quote is verbatim.

Show question

Question

If you quote someone's sign language, is that direct discourse?

Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

"Direct discourse always appears between quotation marks."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Within a story, is a character's quoted dialogue direct discourse?

Show answer

Answer

No, it is dialogue. The difference lies in that dialogue is spoken by a fictional character, whereas direct discourse is a quote by a real person.

Show question

Question

"Avoid direct discourse in argumentation."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False. It's actually strong to do so!

Show question

Question

Direct discourse is used to explain someone else's _____.


Show answer

Answer

Position or memory

Show question

Question

Writers and biographers use direct speech to support _____.

Show answer

Answer

Historical narratives

Show question

Question

Can direct discourse be used as evidence?

Show answer

Answer

Yes. 

Show question

Question

Direct discourse is a strong form of evidence when it ______ your argument.


Show answer

Answer

Verifies

Show question

Question

What is an incomplete quote?

Show answer

Answer

Incomplete quotes don't encompass everything someone had to say about a subject. Direct discourse should not be incomplete quotes.

Show question

Question

What is "omitting words from a quote."

Show answer

Answer

Omitting words from a quote is to doctor what someone has to say about a subject. If you omit words, arguably, you miss the point of direct discourse, which is to quote someone verbatim.

Show question

Question

What is "misapplying a quote"?

Show answer

Answer

Misapplying a quote is using that quote to describe something that the speaker never intended to describe. This is never the right thing to do, period.

Show question

More about Direct Discourse
60%

of the users don't pass the Direct Discourse quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.