A Young Writer climbed the Mountain where the Grammarian lived in a cave overlooking a sheer cliff. He asked: "How do I write what was said and also who said it properly? I know I should have learned this at school or just by observing, but I am not able to write who said what correctly." The Young Writer flushed in shame and looked away from the Grammarian. "And sometimes," the Young Writer whispered in an agony of embarrassment, "I cannot capitalize in the standard way."

The Grammarian said, "Yes, you should have paid better attention to your teachers, or observed how published prose is presented. I will explain, and you will see that this is easily taught. If the Tag, the who-said-it part, follows what was said, do it like this." With a wave of one hand, the Grammarian displayed a set of correct and glowing sentences before the Young Writer:

"He keeps his opinions to himself," Martin said.
"He keeps his opinions to himself!" said Martin.
"He keeps his opinions to himself," he said.
"Why does he keep his opinions to himself?" asked Martin.
"Why does he keep his opinions to himself?" Elaine asked.
"Why does he keep his opinions to himself?" she asked.
"Why does he keep his opinions to himself?" asked the girl.

"I see," said the Young Writer. "And if the Tag comes first?"

"That is easily taught," the Grammarian said. "When the Tag precedes the dialogue, do it like this." Another set of glowing sentences appeared before the Young Writer:

Martin said, "He keeps his opinions to himself."
Said Martin, "He keeps his opinions to himself!"
He said, "He keeps his opinions to himself."
Elaine asked, "Why does he keeps his opinions to himself?"
Asked Elaine, "Why does he keep his opinions to himself?"
He asked, "Why does he keep his opinions to himself?"
Asked he, "Why does he keep his opinions to himself?"

"Is there yet another way of correctly writing dialogue tags?" the Young Writer asked.

"Yes," said the Grammarian. "You can do it this way. Watch carefully: this way is subtle and can be done correctly in only two circumstances. The first is when you have only one complete dialogue sentence." And yet another set of sentences appeared in the air before the Young Writer:

"I don't know why, but he keeps his opinions to himself."
"No, sir, you are wrong."

"Notice the extant comma breaks. The tag can be inserted in sentences like these quite smoothly." With a wave of his hand the displayed sentences shifted to include a tag:

"I don't know why," Martin said, "but he keeps his opinions to himself."
"No, sir," the little man said, "you are wrong."

"Now," the Grammarian said, "if the character has more to say, the dialogue is punctuated appropriately: Observe this final example." The examples blurred and spun until only one sentence was before the Young Writer.

"I don't know why," Martin said, "but he keeps his opinions on his closet shelf. He's strange that way."

"Ah," the Young Writer said. "Now I know all I need to know about writing! All the other Young Writers will envy my friends and I."

The Grammarian laughed cruelly, and kicked the presumptuous Young Writer off the cliff. The Grammarian shouted after the falling youth: "You have yet to master the way of the Pronoun."