Basic Rules of Grammar

Quotation Marks

Punctuation Marks

Part 6

Quotation Marks

❝ ❞

What are quotation punctuation marks? What are quotation marks used for? Where should a quotation mark be placed in a sentence? What happens if I incorrectly punctuate a sentence with quotation marks? These are some of the questions that will be answered in this workshop (Please see punctuation chart in our introduction to punctuation workshop).

The primary function of quotation marks is to set off and represent exact language (either spoken or written) that has come from somebody else. Quotation marks are for when you want to use someone else’s words in your writing.

Use double quotation marks to set off a direct (word-for-word) quotation.

Examples

• “I’m running behind schedule, however, I’ll be there,” said Wesley.

• “I enjoy writing,” she said.

Please remember that quotation marks must state the exact speaker’s words.

Example

Incorrect

• Jennifer said that she “wanted me to go jogging with her.”

This use of quotation marks is incorrect because, quotation marks must state the exact speaker’s words.

Correct example

• “I want you to go jogging with me,” said Jennifer. 

This is a direct quote from Jennifer.

Always capitalize the first word in a complete quotation, even midsentence.

Example

• Carlton said, “will you please stop shouting?” This use of quotation marks would be considered incorrect, because the word will has not been capitalized.

Correct example

• Carlton said, “Will you please stop shouting?”

The above sentence might appear grammatically incorrect because we capitalized the word Will which is not a proper noun, but a verb. Here are the rules for capitalization with quotation marks:

Capitalization

The first word in a quotation that is a complete sentence is capitalized, but the first word in a partial quotation is not:

Examples

Complete sentence

• She said, “Life is just so unfair.”

• He said to her, “You’re rude, disrespectful and selfish”.

Partial Quotations

• He called acting “fiction storytelling.”

• She called them “rude, disrespectful, and selfish.”

Use commas to introduce or interrupt direct quotations.

Example

• She said, “I don’t understand.”

In the above sentence example, the comma is placed right before the direct quote “I dont understand.”

Another example

• He shouted, “Please stop talking”!

Unless they are part of the original quotation, all punctuation marks other than commas or periods are placed outside the quotation marks.

The comma or period at the end of the quotation should always be placed inside the quotation marks.

The colon and semicolon should be placed outside the quotation marks.
These rules have no exceptions.

Example

• John Wayne never said, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”; however, he did say, “A man ought to do what’s right.”

Whether a question mark or an exclamation point should appear inside or outside the quotation marks depends on the meaning. If the quotation is a question or exclamation, put the question mark or exclamation point inside the quotation marks. Otherwise, leave it outside the quotation marks.

Examples

The direct quotation is a question, so the question mark should be placed inside the quotation in the following example.

• David asked, “How long is the train ride?”

In this next example, the question mark is placed outside the direct quote because the the punctuation applies to the whole sentence.

• Why did you say, “It’s time to leave”?

Place a question mark or exclamation point within closing quotation marks if the punctuation applies to the quotation itself. Place the punctuation outside the closing quotation marks if the punctuation applies to the whole sentence.

More examples

• Phillip asked, “Do you need this book?”

In the above sentence, the question mark applies to the quotation itself.

• Did she really say, “You’re an idiot”?

In the above sentence the question mark is placed outside of the quotation marks because the question is part of what I’m saying, not part of the quote.

Another example

• He shouted, “Please stop talking”!

In the above sentence, the exclamation point  punctuation applies to the entire sentence so it should be placed outside the quotation marks.

Direct Quotations

Direct quotations involve incorporating another person’s exact words into your own writing.

Examples

• Jessie said, “I love traveling.”

• Coach Franco said, “Work hard and play even harder.”

Indirect Quotations

Indirect quotations are summaries or paraphrases of someone else’s words.
Don’t use quotation marks around indirect quotations.

Example

“Yolanda said that she was going to the nail salon, because she needed a manicure.”

In the above sentence, the use of quotation marks are incorrect, because it’s an indirect quote. The writer is paraphrasing what Yolanda said.

If a quoted question ends in midsentence, the question mark replaces a comma.

Example

• “Where are my keys?” she asked.

• May I please see your identification?” he asked.

Quotation within a quotation

In American English, use double quotation marks for quotations and single quotation marks for quotations within quotations.

Examples

• “Billy shouted at Bobby, ‘Please don’t interrupt me.’ ”

In the above sentence example, the secondary quote (Please don’t interrupt me) is placed within single quotation marks.
Remember that periods are placed inside the single quotes.

Another example

• “The salesman said, ‘This holiday shopping season is going to be chaotic.’ ”

Scare Quotes

Scare quotes also known, as “shudder quotes”  “sneer quotes” and “air quotes.” Scare quotation marks are used to express skepticism concerning the use of the enclosed word or phrase or to emphasize that the word or phrase is being used as a euphemism.

Euphemism definition = a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.

Scare quotes are identical to standard quotation marks, but do precisely the opposite of what quotation marks are supposed to do: They signal irony, and uncertainty. They suggest words that don’t quite mean what they claim to.

Example

• Wesley “claims” his new job position pays him double his old salary.

In above sentence example the word claims is in scare quotes because the writer is casting doubt whether or not Wesley is being paid double his old salary. In this example the scare quote is more of a sneer quote.

• Yesterday I was chased by my neighbor’s “dog” a chihuahua.

In the above example, the writer is conveying  they don’t consider chihuahuas as a major dog breed and are making fun of the miniature breed.

Additional examples

Normally scare quotes use double quotation marks as in the example below:

• Johnny tells one of his “funny” jokes again

But if the scare quote is inside another quote, then the scare quote takes a single quotation mark around it and the full quote has the double quotation around it as follows:

• He asked, “Did Johnny tell one of his ‘funny’ jokes again?” 

Another example

• Her new “boyfriend” is responsible for  running up her credit card blance.

Don’t use quotation marks on an individual word to make the word stand out. Many writers make this mistake.

Example

• Tom is a really “nice” guy.

The above sentence example use of scare quotation marks are incorrect and also confuses the reader. Readers will probably think that Tom really isn’t a nice guy. Italicize a word if you want a word to stand out.

Example

• Tom is a really “nice” guy.

If the quotation in the sentence comes before he said, she said, or a similar attribution, end the quoted material with a comma.

Examples

• “I need to get gasoline for my car,” said Bob.

• “I love pizza,” shouted Tammy.

The rules for quotation marks around titles vary depending on which style guide you follow (MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style).

In general, you should italicize the titles of long works, like books, movies, or record albums. Use quotation marks for the titles of shorter pieces of work: poems, articles, book chapters, songs, T.V. episodes, etc.

Examples

• Read the article “Intersex – The Christian Viewpoint” by Daphany DuBois.

In the above sentence example, Intersex – The Christian Viewpoint is the title of an article written by Daphany DuBois.

Another example

• My favorite song on Whitney Houston’s album, is “How Will I Know.”

In the above sentence example, the name of the song “How Will I Know” has the quotation makes and not the album title. 

Block Quotations in Writing

Block quotations are used in academic writing but are also common in journalistic and nonfiction writing. Block quotations are a bit more technical.

A block quotation is a direct quotation that is indented from the left margin and begins on a new line.

• Block quotations are used when a quotation exceeds a specific length. Requirements for length vary, depending on the style guide being used.

• Block quotes can be effective tools for persuading readers or proving a point, but they should be used sparingly and edited appropriately.

Spplementary Information

MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style, are different styles you use to cite works from writers. These different styles are used in academic writing.

A citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you utilized to support your research. It can also be used to locate particular sources and combat plagiarism. Typically, a citation can include the author’s name, date, location of the publishing company, journal title, or DOI (Digital Object Identifer).

A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.

Examples

APA

John Stuart Mill explains the basis of freedom:

     “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it (Mill, 1998, p. 16). 

*This is also an example of a Block quotation.

MLA (Modern Languages Association)

John Stuart Mill explains the basis of freedom:

     “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it (Mill 16).

*This is also an example of a Block quotation.

And the Chicago Manual of Style:

John Stuart Mill explains the basis of freedom:

     “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. 1

*This is also an example of a Block quotation.

_______________________
1 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Hazleton, PA, USA: The Pennsylvania State University, 1998),16.

At the end of the document, the full bibliography will list the full list of the works you cite in you document in full. Using the example given above they are as follows:

APA

Mill, J. S. (1998). On Liberty. Hazleton, PA, USA: The Pennsylvania State University.

MLA

Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. The Pennsylvania State University, 1998.

Chicago Manual of Style

Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Hazleton, PA, USA: The Pennsylvania State University. 1998.

This concludes the workshop on quotation punctuation marks. Please go back and re-read the information contained in this workshop, before completing the quotation marks worksheet.

After you have re-read the information in this workshop, test your knowledge on quotation punctuation marks. Please complete the worksheet titled, Quotation Marks Worksheet. You’ll find it on our website. Just click on the menu section at the top, and then select worksheets.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post your questions in the leave a reply section below or on our official Facebook or Twitter page. A member of our teaching staff will provide helpful feedback on all of your  questions.

We hope you enjoyed this workshop!

*Keep up to date with all of our Free workshops.

Follow us on Twitter @dfoww_edu

Follow us on Facebook @dfoww

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.