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Quotation Marks

Double quotation marks are used in these instances:

1) When quoting speech; in other words, when showing the exact words someone has spoken.
2) When writing the title of a short work (according to specific rules) such as a magazine or newspaper article, short story, poem, or song.
3) When setting off a word because it is used in a special way:
    a) When a word is used in place of something a person may not want to say directly.
      (Example: My dog had an "accident.")
    b) When a word is meant as a thing instead of as its meaning.
      (Example: I spelled "cat" correctly.)

Single quotation marks are used in this instance:

When words that would normally be placed within double quotation marks need to be put within another group of words which is already within double quotation marks.

John said, "Then Mary yelled, 'Look out!'"

Elwood said, "I think 'Pop Goes the Weasel' is my favorite song."


1) In the United States, periods and commas always go inside the set of marks that closes a quotation.

Jimmers said, "I know where you are," then ran away.

"You're a nut
," Bubba laughed.

Jenna told her sister, "I miss you

2) Other quotation marks go inside or outside the set of marks that closes a quotation, depending on the sense of the sentence.

Did you say, "Eat your vegetables"?
                        (The question mark goes
                        outside because the whole
                        sentence is a question.)

He asked, "Are you asleep?"
                        (The question mark goes
                        inside because only the
                        quotation is a question.)

I was shocked to hear him say, "Hello"!
                        (The exclamation point
                        goes outside because
                        the excitement relates to
                        the whole sentence.)

He yelled, "Go away!"
                        (The exclamation point
                        goes inside because
                        the excitement relates only
                        to the quoted words.)

3) Place a comma after the words that introduce a quotation.

Eloise replied, "Your nose is pretty, too."

4) Use commas to set off split quotations.

"I've been here too long," Jack said, "and I can't take anymore."


1)Begin quoted speech with a capital letter. However, if the quotation is interrupted in the middle (if it is split), do not begin the second part with a capital letter. Do not begin the interruption with a capital letter, either.

The girl said, "Cake is wonderful!"

"Cake is wonderful," the girl said, "but ice cream is better."

Copyright © 1999-2005 Daniel R. Fisher