Quotation marks or inverted commas are used for several purposes in English writing. We shall explore the correct use of these punctuation marks in this guide.
Definition: Quotation marks
These punctuation marks are mostly used to represent direct speech. They can also imply alternative meaning or represent the titles of books or other works.
Adjusting the format according to your university’s requirements is typically the final step. After several times of proofreading, many become blinkered to their own work and miss formatting mistakes. A preview-function representing the real-life version that can be edited virtually creates a fresh eye for formatting mistakes and helps you to detect them again.
When to use quotation marks
There are two types of quotation marks: Single (‘…’) quotes and double (“…”) quotes. In American and British English, these two punctuation marks are used differently.
Single quotation marks
These punctuation marks are mostly used in British English, and they can indicate direct speech. They are commonly used for quotes within quotes in American English. Here are some examples:
Double quotation marks
The use of these punctuation marks differs depending on whether you are using American English or British English. In American English, they usually depict direct speech. In British English, these marks are commonly used for quotes within quotes. Here are some examples to illustrate the difference:
Quotation mark rules
When using these punctuation marks, you will need to take note of the following rules.
Quotations and capitalization
If you are quoting a complete sentence, the first word after the quotation has to be capitalized. This rule applies even if the quote is in the middle of a sentence. Here are some examples:
You will not need to capitalize the sentence if you are only quoting a phrase. For example:
When you split the quoted text, you will not need to capitalize the second part of the sentence. For example:
You should take note of the use of commas. After the initial quote, you will use the comma within the quotation mark. In the second part of the quotation, the comma has to be outside the quotation mark. However, the period or full stop will be placed within the quotation mark.2
Quotation marks and other punctuation marks
Punctuation marks that introduce quotes are never placed within the quotation marks, but the rules are different for punctuation marks that end the quotes. In American English, commas and periods are always placed within the quotation marks. However, in the UK, commas and periods or full stops are only placed in the quotation marks if the quote is a full sentence or if the punctuation marks are part of the quotation.
|American English||James said the meal was “cold and inedible.”|
|British English||He referred to the woman as “pretty and sociable”, but he didn’t want to pursue a relationship with her.|
In both American and British English, colons, semicolons, and dashes are placed outside the quotation marks.3
Take a look at these examples:
|James called her mother ‘wicked’; she didn’t feed or clothe him for years.|
|These are the items on ‘John’s traveling checklist’- shorts, T-shirts, socks, and a smartphone.|
|She said she would ‘come dressed for the party’- she never showed up.|
When using question marks and exclamation points, you only need to place them in the quotation marks if they are part of the quote.
|The girl asked, “Can I taste the food?”|
|Did she really say, “Bailey is allergic to meat”?|
|She actually said, “Bailey can’t have any meat”!|
Quotes within quotes
The punctuation of quotes within quotes will vary depending on the version of English you are using. In American English, you have to use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes. On the other hand, you need to use double quotation marks for the same purpose in British English.4
Depending on the type of binding and customer frequency at a print shop, the printing process and delivery may take a longer period of time. Don’t lose valuable time and use the printing service with free express delivery at BachelorPrint! This enables you to finalize your thesis up to one day before hand in.
Quotation marks – Examples
These punctuation marks are primarily used to represent the exact language used by someone else.5
Double quotation marks are commonly used to indicate direct speech, while single quote marks are used to enclose quotes within quotes or quotes within headlines.
These punctuation marks are only placed in the quotation marks if they are part of the quote.
You can use double quotation marks for the main quote and single quotation marks for the quote within the quote.
1 PurdueUniversity. “How to Use Quotation Marks.” Accessed September, 25, 2022. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/punctuation/quotation_marks/.
2 Grammarly. “Quotation Marks: Rules and Examples.” September 16, 2022. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/quotation-marks/ .
3 Grammarly. “Duking it Out: Parentheses vs. Dash.” Accessed September 25, 2022. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/duking-it-out-parentheses-vs-dash/.
4 University Writing and Speaking Center. “British vs. American English.” Accessed September 25, 2022. https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/british-american-english.
5 The Saurus. “What Are Quotation Marks (“) And How Do You Use Them?.” March 3, 2022. https://www.thesaurus.com/e/grammar/use-quotation-marks/.