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Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks

Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson introduces quotation marks and how they are used.

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Quotation Marks are used in sets of two’s and come in two types.

There are “double quotation marks” or ‘single quotation marks.’

Sets of Double Quotation Marks

Use a set of double quotation marks to enclose the following:

  • A direct quote: Peter describes his apartment as “belonging to a man he never knew.”
    • do not use quotation marks around indirect quotes: Peter describes his apartment as belonging to someone else. (Here the writer uses his or her own words, rather than the words of Peter, to paraphrase the description of the apartment.)
  • Dialogue: “So then I told Amanda to tell Jacob to tell my cousin Jeremy to mind his own business for once,” she said before taking a breath.
  • Around the titles of short works such as short stories (“Rappaccini’s Daughter”); poems (“The Wasteland”); newspaper, magazine, and journal articles (“Don’t Take My Flag”); songs (“21st Century Schizoid Man”); episodes of a show (“Schrödinger’s cat”); or chapters in a book (“Chapter Five: Cell Development”).
  • Words that appear as words in a sentence (that do not perform a “function” within the sentence): The words “ogled” and “ogre” were repeated seven hundred times in your essay!
    • Usually, writers use italics to indicate that a word is being used as a word (and not by its conventional meaning) in a sentence.
  • Words that a writer is using in an ironic or sarcastic way: Your “dog” doesn’t even play fetch!


Sets of Single Quotation Marks

Use a set of single quotation marks to enclose a quote within a quote.

  • Peter describes his apartment as “belonging to a man he never knew who left notes that said ‘wash the dishes,’ and ‘iron your own shirts’ on the bathroom mirror,” who was embarrassingly neat.


Punctuation Marks with Quotation Marks

  • Periods and Commas go inside quotation marks
    • Periods: I can’t help but wonder what he meant by “her hair is just like a big brass band.”
    • Commas: “I don’t know about them,” she said to him in a huff.
  • Colons and Semicolons go outside quotation marks
    • Colons: We have provided the following as a definition of the term “quixotic”: overly idealistic.
    • Semicolons: My favorite short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez are “Eva is Inside Her Cat”; “The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings”; and “Someone has been Disarranging These Roses.”
  • Exclamation points and Question marks
    • Go inside the quotation marks when they are a part of the quoted material:  And then she asked “Are we there yet?” for the last time.
    • Go outside the quotation marks when they are a part of the overall sentence (not just what appears inside quotation marks): Did he really say “hair plugs”? 

Quotation Marks