Punctuation: How to Use Quotation Marks in English
Using double quotation marks
RULE 1To enclose a direct quotation, (i.e., the exact words of a speaker).
EX. "Our plan is to pay you $500 upfront, and the rest in three installments of $200 each," replied the banker.
RULE 2The direct words of each new speaker always begin a new paragraph.
RULE 3If the quotation is broken make sure to enclose both parts in quotation marks.
EX. "Our plan," said the banker, "is to pay $500 upfront, and the rest in three installments of $200 each."
RULE 4If the quotation is broken, capitalize the first word only.
Wrong: "You believe," said Peter, "That we should throw him a party."
Right: "You believe," said Peter, "that we should throw him a party."
Notice that the original sentence continues after the break; therefore, we use a small letter.
RULE 5The first sentence of the quotation ends at the break; therefore, you capitalize the word "you."
Wrong: "He is right," said Mr. Jones, "you should not have returned the product."
Right: "He is right," said Mr. Jones. "You should not have returned the product."
RULE 6If a quotation consists of more than one paragraph, place quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, and at the end of only the last one. If the quotation is incomplete, then use a small letter.
EX.The baseball stadium is selling tickets to raise funds for local charities. The CEO's last report said, "our fundraiser will add value to our small growing community."
Here the quotation is only a portion of the CEO's original sentence. The small letter in it indicates this. It is also correct to precede such a quotation with. . . . , to indicate material omitted or not quoted.
RULE 7 Place all punctuation marks belonging to the quotation within the quotation marks. This includes the comma of separation.
EX."I really don't like the way you are speaking to me!" shouted my girlfriend. "Show me more respect, please!"
EX."You will believe me," replied the detective, "when you investigate the building for yourself."
EX."What time will you show up?" asked my wife.
EX."Let's stop work and go to lunch."
Using single quotation marks
RULE 8 To enclose a quotation within a quotation.
EX.The salesperson turned to me and said, "Have you ever heard the phrase, 'the customer is always right?'"
Note: The single and the double quotation marks at the end indicate the end of both the original quotation and the included quotation.
Other Uses Of Quotation Marks
RULE 9You can use quotation marks to denote the title of books, magazines, articles, poems and pictures. Many prefer to underline once all such titles. You decide. In printing, the underlined title usually becomes italicized.
RULE 10In quoting titles, quote with exactness! Do not carelessly omit articles (i.e., the, a, an), or place them outside the quotation marks.
Right: Bring me the spring issue of Golf Digest magazine.
Right: Bring me the spring issue of "Golf Digest" magazine.
Wrong: We are reading the "House of the Seven Gables."
Right: We are reading "The House of the Seven Gables."
Wrong: We are reading the "Catcher and the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.
Right: We are reading "The Catcher and the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.
RULE 11Use quotation marks when you need to indicate that you are using a word in some other sense than what we accept as proper English, such as slang, or coined words; or when you use a word as a term or a means of reference.
EX."That concert was off the hinges!"
EX."Martha was making googly eyes at Charlie."
EX."Daggit, my computer crashed again!"
RULE 12Names of ships or trains are often enclosed in quotation marks.
EX.The "Twentieth Century Ironhorse" brings Chicago business to New York.
In these two cases also, you may underline instead of using quotation marks.
Quotation marks are not used
1. To enclose poetry.
2. You do not need to use quotations to enclose well known quotations or proverbs.
EX.You know the old saying, It is never too late to mend.
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