Do You Use Quotation Marks for Thoughts? (Helpful Examples)

Thoughts can be difficult to express appropriately in writing. You won’t always be able to do it, but when you can, it’s important to know how to punctuate them. This article will explain all you need to know about punctuating thoughts in your writing.

Do You Use Quotation Marks for Thoughts?

You can use quotation marks for thoughts in creative writing. It’s common for people to use these to help separate their thoughts from the rest of the writing. It’s similar to how you would include conversations and dialogue with quotation marks.

do you use quotation marks for thoughts

Quotation marks work best when someone is saying something. However, there’s no reason why you can’t use it to talk about how someone is thinking or feeling.

As long as you specify that you’re talking about thoughts by using something like “I thought” or “he thought” around it, quotation marks work well.

Are Thoughts Italicized or Quoted?

You can quote thoughts in your writing, but you can also italicize them. A lot of people prefer the more concise approach of keeping thoughts in italics because it helps to separate them further from the original writing. Also, italics stand out from other dialogue.

The problem with using speech marks for thoughts is that people don’t think out loud. It’s expected that when quotation marks surround something, that person should be saying something aloud (or should have done so in the past).

With italics, this problem is avoided. Instead of worrying about whether someone said something, you can instead make it clear that something is thinking about things.

How to Properly Quote Thoughts in a Sentence

Now is the time to see how to quote your thoughts properly. For the most part, you’ll be writing thoughts in third person when quoting like this. It’s most common to see thoughts in creative writing (often from the perspective of a third-person view).

Quotation Marks

  1. He thought for a moment, “there were a few ways to get out of this mess, but I haven’t managed to capitalize on any of them.”
  2. “I knew there was something else going on here,” thought Craig as he watched the others try to get away.
  3. “The moment has already passed,” Angelica thought to herself. It was about time that she acted on it.
  4. She thought for a second, “what happened to those poor people I passed not too long ago.”
  5. There was a brief moment when she paused to think, “perhaps there are a few things I could do differently.”

Quotation marks are fairly common in this way when writing creatively. Many novels will include quotation marks around thoughts to help separate them from the rest of their prose.


  1. Darren thought, there wasn’t much more to do here, so maybe he should just go.
  2. I knew I had to do something. I thought there were some people back there that might have needed my help.
  3. The thought “that the team left him alone” crossed his mind more than once on his way back.
  4. There was only one other thing he could do, thought Samuel.
  5. Some of the others are still trapped in there, and I have to do something. That was the only thought that crossed her mind.

It’s possible sometimes to use quotation marks and italics at the same time. It mainly depends on stylistic choices and whether you like the look of how it’s separated from the rest of the sentence.

Is It OK To Quote Thoughts in a Sentence?

It is okay to quote thoughts in a sentence in creative writing. It’s very common to do so when it helps to further the development of certain characters. You won’t often see it in formal writing because there is never a reason to include thoughts.

Including your thoughts in formal writing would take away from the integrity of whatever you’re writing about. It’s best to keep them in more creative or informal passages to make sure you’re using thoughts correctly.

Final Thoughts

You can include thoughts in creative writing with quotation marks or italics. It’s more common to see thoughts italicized in creative writing because it helps to separate the thoughts from other dialogue (which typically uses quotation marks to show that someone is talking).

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