Quotation Marks

So far, we've focused on using quotation marks to signal when you are quoting directly from another text, such as a scholarly article, a short story, or a film. This is not the only scenario where you should use quotation marks. Read this article, which explains how to use quotation marks. Then, complete the practice activity to add quotation marks to make sentences grammatically correct. When you finish, check your answers against the answer key.

Use quotation marks:

To distinguish spoken words from other matter, as in reporting dialogue.

"I do not recall", said President Reagan.

To mark single words, sentences, paragraphs, or poetic stanzas that are quoted verbatim from the original.

Portia's speech on "the quality of mercy" is one of the most quoted passages from Shakespeare.

It was Shaw who wrote: "All great truths begin as blasphemies".

To enclose a quotation within a quotation, in which case a single quotation mark is used.

Reading Jill's letter, Roger said, "Listen to this! 'I have found the perfect job in San Francisco.' Isn't that great?"

To enclose titles of newspaper and magazine articles, essays, stories, poems, and chapters of books. The quotation marks distinguish such literary pieces from the italicized titles of the books or periodicals in which they appear.

Our anthology contains such widely assorted pieces as Bacon's essay "Of Studies", Poe's "The Raven", Neruda's "Book of Questions", and an article on criticism from The Saturday Review.

To enclose titles of short musical compositions and songs as distinct from symphonies, operas, or albums, which are italicized.

Our national anthem is "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Even the children laughed at the "Figaro" aria from The Barber of Seville.

My favorite song from Tyler Swift's album Fearless is "Love Story".

To enclose titles of works of art such as paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures.

Most people recognize Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" or Rodin's "The Thinker".

To enclose titles of television programs.

"CSI Miami"

To enclose titles of plays only if they are referred to as part of a larger collection. When referred to as single volumes, they are italicized.

"The Wild Duck" is the Ibsen play included in this edition of Modern European Plays.

To enclose names of ships and airplanes. Italics may also be used for this purpose.

Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in the "Spirit of St. Louis".

We took a cruise on "The Big Red Boat".

To emphasize a word or phrase which is itself the subject of discussion.

The words "imply" and "infer" are not synonymous.

Such Freudian terms as the "ego", the "superego", the "id", and the "libido" are now considered part of the English language.

To draw attention to an uncommon word or phrase, a technical term, or a usage very different in style (dialect, extreme slang) from the context. Italics are often used for the same purpose.

In glass blowing, the molten glass is called "metal".

Sandy Smith has earned her place on this year's "nice" list by compiling an avalanche of volunteer hours.

To suggest ironic use of a word or phrase.

The radio blasting forth John's favorite "music" is an instrument of torture to his grandfather.

Bob's skiing "vacation" consisted of three weeks with his leg in a cast.


Placement of quotation marks:

Note: The placement of quotation marks varies with different marks of punctuation.

Use a comma between the quoted matter and such phrases as "according to the speaker", "he said", "she replied", "they asked", whenever these phrases introduce a quotation, are used parenthetically, or follow a quotation which, in its original form, would end with a period.

According to the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal".

"Well", announced John's father, "we are going to the zoo next week". John asked, "Why not this week?".

"We're going to visit Grandpa", replied his father.

Whenever such phrases as "he said", "he replied", or "he asked" follow a question or an exclamation, use the corresponding punctuation before the end quotation mark.

"Why can't we go this week?" asked John.

"We simply can't. And that's final!" replied his father.

Always place the end quotation mark before a colon or semicolon.

He remembered that the boys had always called Tom "the champ"; he began to wonder if the reputation endured.

There were several reasons why Tom was acknowledged as "the champ": physical strength, intellectual superiority, and leadership qualities.

Place the end quotation mark after a question mark or exclamation point when the question or exclamation is part of the quoted passage.

"Hurry, please, before it's too late!" she cried.

"Is there any hope of recovering the property?" he asked.

In all other cases, place the quotation mark before the exclamation point or question mark.

Did Pangloss really mean it when he said, "This is the best of all possible worlds"?

How absurd of him to say "This is the best of all possible worlds"!

If a quotation consists of two or more consecutive paragraphs, use quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, but place them at the end of the last paragraph only.

Examples of this can be found in the long passages of dialogue in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Practice: Insert quotation marks, punctuation, and change capitalization where necessary for the following sentences to be grammatically correct.

  1. Did you read the Angelou poem Still I Rise he asked
  2. Of all her poems she said this is my favorite. It's really very funny she added
  3. Turning towards her mother she asked for help. She seemed distressed and was shaking her hands. What's wrong her mother answered. I am going to miss the bus she replied
  4. Holmes never actually says It's elementary Watson in the stories the teacher explained
  5. Jaime helped Petra on her essay about The Red-Headed League
  6. Tanya's Math teacher asked her where are you stuck
  7. I can't figure out where to put the plus-sign Tanya answered it doesn't seem to make a difference where it goes
  8. Who is the criminal in The Blue Carbuncle asked Professor Rodriguez
  9. Who said To be or not to be, that is the question asked Professor Lee.
  10. The milk is spoiled she exclaimed don't drink it.

Source: Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, http://opencourselibrary.org/eng-9y-pre-college-english/
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2021, 1:55 PM