Quotation Marks

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Introduction

There are two quotation marks in punctuation system in English-

Single quotation - ( ‘ ’ )

Double quotation - ( “ ” ) 

We put quotation marks with direct quotes, with titles of certain written works, to imply alternate meanings, and to write words as words.

Single and double quotation marks have different usage and are often confused with each other.

In addition, the usage of quotation marks in American English is different from British English, which can cause problems for international students. 


Usage of Quotation Mark

1. To indicate the person’s exact spoken words-


Examples:

  • The Principal said to Amarpreet, “You have got good marks in your board exams, Congratulations!”

  • “ You have got good marks in your board exams, Congratulations!” , Mother said to her daughter.


2. Begin every direct quotation that marks the starting of someone’s sentence with a capital letter.

Be sure, however, to use a lower case for the second part of a quotation that divides a sentence.


Examples:

  • “Just put the CD next to the player,” said Kiran. “We’ll install the game later tonight.” 

In this example, because the second part of the divided dialogue is a complete sentence, a period and capital letter are required to shift from one sentence to another.       

  • “I read the whole novel, Sapna explained, “because it is too interesting.”

The commas after the novel and explained show that the dialogue was interrupted by a dialogue tag and the next sentence starts with small letters.


3. An indirect quotation is the restating of what someone has said. We do not use quotation marks with indirect sentences. They are usually preceded by the word that.


Examples:

  • Direct quotation: Yash explained, “the earth revolves around the sun.” 

  • Indirect quotation: Yash explained that the earth revolves around the sun.


4. Commas and periods are always put inside the quotation marks.


Example:

  • The sign said, "Left." Then it said, "Right," then, "Left," all within twenty seconds.

  • He cried, “ Hurry up.”


5. Semicolons and colons always go outside quotation marks.


Example:

  • David read his story “The last song”; then he started his speech.


6. Question marks and exclamation points are put either inside or outside quotation marks. It depends on the sentence. They are put inside the quotation marks when the quotation itself is a question or an exclamation; otherwise, they are put outside.     

   

Example:

  • Inside:    Jim asked, “Is he just making a random guess?”

  • Inside:    Why do they ask “What’s your address?”

  • Outside:  Who just said, “He’s only making a random guess”?   

The first example demonstrates a question in a dialogue. The second example demonstrates a question within a question. The next example demonstrates a quoted statement within a larger question.           

  • Inside: Christopher read the sign aloud: “Keep Slow!” 

  • Inside: Raj shouted at the milkman, “Show up on time!” 

The first example describes a quoted exclamation at the end of a simple statement. The second shows an exclamation mark within an exclamation. The third displays a quoted phrase at the end of an exclamation.


7. Aside from use to denote direct dialogues, quotation marks are used to point out the titles of other people’s short works, such as magazine articles and short stories. 


Examples:

  • Newspaper article — “Hurry Up and Relax”

  • The story- “Ghat of the only world”

              

How Do We Indicate Quotation Marks When Speaking?

We think or speak, "quote, unquote" or "open quotes, close quotes" while reading any text which has quotation marks.

The story describes the house as, quote, unquote, a scary house.

There are some major differences in the use of quotation marks in the different types of English Grammar such as British English or American English. Hence the rules change according to the version of the English Language which you are using but in many cases, the quotation marks end at the end of a sentence.


Solved Examples


1. Make a Guess Which Word(s) or Phrase(s) in Each of the Sentences Below Need a  Quotation Mark. Before Which Word would the Opening Quotation Marks Come and Where will it End?

  1. The great philosopher Krishnamurti once said People live their lives bound by what they perceive to be true and correct!

  2. My brother is trying to hide the fact that he is a nerd, so he tries to act dumb a lot. 

  3. We just read The Tell-Tale Heart in English class.

  4. If my dog could talk, he would say, More chicken, please!

  5. You can’t go in there before midnight, said Aarambh, Your birthday present is hidden in there. 

  6. Jeff The Hulk Jones was my mortal enemy in elementary school.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1: What is the Difference Between Single and Double Quotations?

Although there is no major difference between the two and the two are almost used synonymously but in many countries, the general perception is that double quotes are used to indicate direct speech and single quotes are used to indicate a quote within a quote. This is only a perception though and its strict compliance is not recommended anywhere.