How To Use Quotation Marks
VideoJug present you with a simple guide on how to properly use quotation marks in your English writing. This great film will show you everything you need to know about quotation marks.
Step 1: An exact quote
Quotation marks are used to show that the words inside them are a direct quote from someone. Only the person's exact words should appear within quotation marks. In most cases, quotations that span multiple paragraphs should be block-quoted, and do not require quotation marks. Have a look at How to Use Block Quotes to find out how to do this properly.
Step 2: Single or double?
There's no real difference between the single (‘) and double (“) versions, but be consistent; it's normally better to use the double version to differentiate it from an apostrophe (‘):
‘I was at St. Thomas' hospital that day,' she said.
You can use the different types of quotation mark to indicate a quote within a quote: “John said, ‘Good morning Dave,'?” recalled Frank.
‘John said, “Good morning Dave,”?' recalled Frank.
Step 3: Quotation commas
When introducing a quote use a comma or colon between the end of your introduction and the first quotation mark. If there is no introduction, but you want to carry on writing after the quote, use a comma at the end:
“There's no need to be like that about it,” she said.
She said, “There's no need to be like that about it.”
All quotes start with a capital letter, unless you are quoting part of a sentence:
According to Thomas Edison, “Genius is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration.”
Thomas Edison declared that genius was, “ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration.”
Step 4: Interrupting a quote
You can interrupt a quote in three of ways. Firstly with bracketing commas:
“There's no need,” she said, “to be like that about it.”
Secondly, you can use square brackets to clarify a point, or insert additional information:
“These two nations [Russia and America] seem to sway the destinies of half the globe.”
The original quote doesn't make it obvious which 2 nations are referred to.
You can also use square brackets to add words to a quote, or to replace words (without changing the original meaning of the sentence):
“I'm sure it
always like that.”
Finally, an ellipsis (…) can be used to indicate that some words have been removed, so the quote:
“I asked him to bring my shoes from the car, right, and when he turned up, yeah, after 3 hours, he'd been at the pub and he was totally drunk! And worst of all (you'll love this) as if he hadn't mucked me around enough, he brought the wrong ones!”
“I asked him to bring my shoes from the car... he brought the wrong shoes!”
Step 5: Ironic quotes
Sometimes quotes can be used to show that the writer is employing irony, or questioning someone's version of events:
My brother said he was too “busy” to help me.
But this is not common in formal speech.
Step 6: Punctuating quotes
A debate has been raging over whether punctuation marks should be put inside or outside punctuation marks. The logical view is that if the punctuation mark is part of the quotation then it should go inside, like so:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Because Roosevelt's wise words are a full sentence we include a full stop at the end of it, inside the quotation marks.
But if the punctuation is not an intrinsic part of the quote then it should go outside the quotes, like this:
“The Chancellor said he was fed up with “silly policies”.
Because we have lifted the phrase “silly policies” out of context from the chancellor's original quote, we should close the quotation marks before ending the sentence with a full stop.
But another view, commonly held in America, is that you should always put any punctuation inside the quotation marks, so it is difficult to be wrong on this one.
Step 7: Inside or outside
In standard British-English punctuation should appear inside the quotation marks if it is relevant to the quote, and outside if it's relevant to the