I'm confused about proper punctuation, spacing, and capitalization when a character is speaking and is interrupted by actions without continuing dialogue.

"Maybe we could—" My phone rang.

"Maybe we could—" The dog started barking.

"Maybe we could—" He raised his hand to silence me.

"Maybe we could—" Was that a scream?

Was it correct to capitalize My, The, He and Was?

Also, when another person is speaking and is interrupted.

"This is one of the best—" She was interrupted by Danny.

"This is one of the best—" She didn't finish.

"This is one of the best—" Started Jim.

Is it correct to capitalize She and Started?

  • Very similar, not a duplicate, might be useful: writers.stackexchange.com/questions/24900/… and this as well: writers.stackexchange.com/questions/1794/… Dec 13, 2016 at 13:09
  • Thank you for the links. My I ask you about an answer you gave in the second link? "Look, Jones. This — " He pointed at the castle. " — will be yours someday." Is He capitalized because this sentence is ending in a period? Other examples I've seen online would have the H of he as lowercase with a comma after castle. Sorry this is messy I don't know how to use quotes here.
    – Jeane L.
    Dec 14, 2016 at 9:24
  • Yes, I capitalized He because He pointed at the castle. is a complete sentence which interrupts the dialogue. The fourth and fifth examples in that answer have sentence fragments, which take lowercase letters and commas. Dec 14, 2016 at 10:27

2 Answers 2


It has nothing to do with who spoke or who interrupted. It only has to do with what is a sentence. Speech tags are part of the same sentence as the dialog the report. Separate actions occurring after the speech are separate sentences. Only the last of your examples is a speech tag, though an awkward one. The rest are separate sentences.

  • Thank you for explaining. I finally get it. I see that only "Started" should be lowercase because it's part of a speech tag.
    – Jeane L.
    Dec 14, 2016 at 4:05

As a general rule, I tend to use dashes where the character is dramatically interrupted where as ellipses are used when it's a subtler interruption.


Tony:"But at least Thanos doesn't know where the final-"

Steve: "OH CRAP!"


Tony:"But at least Thanos doesn't know where the final..."

Steve: "Oh Crap."

In the former, Steve has an immediate and very sudden realization that something has gone terribly wrong. In the later, it's a softer realization.

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