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Quotation Marks Punctuation in Writing


Using quotation marks properly as punctuation in written works.

Quotation marks are primarily used to indicate:

a)   Direct speech. 

   “Will you have them send over the contracts now please?” asked Mr. Jones.

Note:  All punctuation marks in the sentence are placed inside the quotation marks, with the exception of:  i) question marks that do not form part of the quotation and, ii) semicolons and colons.

   “Please begin your presentation whenever you are ready,” the chairman told him.

   “What are the new hours of operation?” Harry asked.

   “They just all stopped working and walked out of the plant!” exclaimed the supervisor.

       i.  If the question mark does not form part of the quotation, it is placed outside of the quotation marks. 

           Did Jane say, “The meeting will start earlier because of the game, or end earlier because of the game”?

      ii.  Semicolons and colons, are placed outside the quotation marks.

           That’s when she gave up those small acting parts as “queen of commercials”: she paid her dues.

b)    A quotation within a quotation.
Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

   “I specifically remember he asked, ‘Which lever will slow it down?’ when I showed him how to operate the machine,” said Joe.            

c)   To set off from the context any quoted or emphasized word or phrase.

    With a “deer in the headlights” look on his face, John just stared out across the audience. 

d)   To indicate ironical use of words.

   Everyone at the barbeque party “borrowed” my sunscreen lotion until it was all used up.

Back to Punctuation Page

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