What is the right punctuation for this dialog (direct speech) in Italian?

"I am John," he said. "Who are you?"

"Io sono John", disse. "Tu chi sei?"

I know I'm supposed to delete the double quotes and use (em or en) dashes instead, but I'm not sure how many of them I need, and where to place them.

  • 4
    Actually, you are supposed to do whatever your publisher has fixed in its “norme editoriali” or “norme redazionali”, which may envision guillemets («»), inverted commas (“”), en- or em-dashes, or even something else. I have a collection of these norme, put together in years of working as a translator, and I'd say that no two of them are equal, also taking into account what to do with punctuation: «“Sono John”, disse» vs. «“Sono John” disse» and so on. See here for a similar (duplicate?) question.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 13:43
  • 1
    Welcome to Italian.SE!
    – Charo
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The punctuation you wrote is right.

In general in Italian for direct speech the following rules apply:

Usually direct speech is introduced by declarative verbs followed by, in the order, colon, a space and a punctuation sign chosen among one of the following:

“...”       inverted commas (or quotation marks)
«...»     angled quotes (or guillemets)
–...–     dashes

Direct speech statements are enclosed between these diacritical signs.

For example:

Mi è dispiaciuto che tu non abbia detto: «Accetto volentieri la tua proposta»

– Vado e torno, – disse.

However in contemporary Italian, especially in some particular text types like newspapers articles and literary prose, these signs can be missing or replaced by others.

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