The Rules for Using Quotation Marks? (with Examples)

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The Rules for Using Quotation Marks? (with Examples)

Quotation marks ("") are punctuation marks used in pairs to:
  • To identify previously spoken or written words
  • To signify so-called or alleged
  • To highlight the name of things like ships, books, and plays.
Quotation marks are also known as speech marks, quotes, and inverted commas.

Examples of Quotation Marks in Sentences

Here are some examples of quotation marks in sentences.

Quotation marks to identify previously spoken or written words
  • George Bernard Shaw said: "When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth."
  • (When a quotation is introduced with words like He said, He whispered, He wrote, it is usual to precede the quotation with a comma or a colon.)

  • If you think what your uncle said is funny, then you should take Shaw's advice and "search it carefully for a hidden truth."
  • (When a quotation is used as part of a sentence, do not introduce it with a comma or a colon.)
Read about placing punctuation inside and outside a quotation.
Read about introducing a quotation with a comma, a colon, or nothing.
Read about using square parentheses (brackets) with a quotation.

Quotation marks to signify so-called or alleged
  • So, when are you and your "girlfriend" leaving?
  • My "mates" drove off with my clothes, leaving me in the lake.
Read more about quotation marks to signify so-called or alleged.

Quotation marks to highlight the name of things like ships, books, and plays.
  • "The Herald of Free Enterprise" was a passenger ferry which capsized moments after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on the night of 6 March 1987.
  • Did you watch "Billy Elliot" in the West End?
Read more about quotation marks for ships, books, and plays.
Double or Single Quotation Marks?

Quotation marks come in two forms: singles ('like these') and doubles ("like these"). The most common convention is to use doubles. When doubles are used, singles are used when quotation marks are required within the quotation marks. For example:
  • She said: "My dog can say 'sausages' much more clearly than the one on TV."
  • Homer Simpson said: "Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'Sir' without adding 'you're making a scene'."
(This is called nesting quotations.)

Some writers think double quotation marks look too stark, and they like to start with singles and nest doubles within them. For example:
  • Homer Simpson said: 'Maybe, just once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding "you're making a scene".'
Read more about single and double quotation marks.


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