Quick Grammar

Keeping Your Grammar Skills Sharp Has Never Been Easier

Need a tutor now?
Try Instant Book

Quotation Marks

What are Quotation Marks?


Want to report a statement said by someone? Quotation marks are what you need. Journalists use this punctuation mark to signify that a statement in an article is a direct quote from another person. In academic writing, you use quotation marks to inform that a particular piece is an excerpt from another person's work. In any case, quotation marks are used in pairs, with the quoted text sandwiched between the opening and closing quotation marks.

American vs. British Quotation Marks
These two main conventions have slightly different rules governing the use of quotation marks. For example, double quotation marks ("") and single quotation marks (‘') are used for direct quotes and quotes within quotes respectively in American English, while the opposite holds true for British English. Also, while commas and periods go after closing quotation marks in British English, they go before the closing quotation marks in American English. The guidelines below follow American English conventions.


Dialogue
Quotations only become a bone of contention when they have to be placed in relation to nearby punctuation marks. A correctly punctuated conversation is given below.
Paul said, "I'm going to play in today's match."
"That's unbelievable!" said amazed Peter.
"Well, you have my words," Paul replied
 "Okay . . . great. Best of luck."
In the first sentence of the dialogue, Paul's declarative statement ends in a period – which goes before the closing quotation mark. Also, remember to treat elements within quotes independently with their own correct punctuation. Thus, if the quote turns out to be a full sentence, a capital letter should begin the statement, even though the quote belongs to a larger sentence structure.
In the second sentence, Peter makes a huge exclamation, and since it belongs to the enclosed words, the exclamation mark goes before the closing quotation mark.
Paul makes another declarative statement in the third sentence, but since the dialogue tag Paul replied immediately follows the declaration, instead of ending the sentence with a period, a comma is used, which of course goes before the closing quotation mark
The final sentence omits dialogue tags as its pretty clear which character is speaking.

Non-Dialogue Quotations
You likely won't adopt dialogue styling when quoting someone in academic contexts. Although the same rules apply as regards placing the quotation marks to other punctuation marks, you have to ensure the statement flows well grammatically without causing glitches to the reader.
The most successful businesses to date "were started between1980 - 2005" according to the lecturer.
As seen above, the statement flows well with the quoted texts.

Scare Quotes
Also called shudder quotes, scare quotes are used when you want to distance yourselves from a quoted text. You might use them to infer that you don't necessarily approve of a word or that the quoted term is not often used. E.g.
Many millennials now fancy the "gig economy."
In the example given above, the word gig economy is enclosed in quotation marks as the writer probably doesn't like the term or wants to show that it's a nonstandard word to readers who may not be familiar with the term. But, it's always better to make a statement clear enough without using scare quotes as overusing them will make your writing uninteresting to readers.
You should also not use them unnecessarily for emphasis since scare quotes infer disapproval or sarcasm. For example, saying He is very "brilliant" can be taken to mean you are being sarcastic that's he's actually not brilliant.

Need Help?