Quotation Mark

Writing requires punctuation marks. They function as inaudible inflection, cadence, or modulation for readers. Simply put, they allow readers to know when to pause or stop fully in the text, if a question is being asked, or if a point is being emphasized.

Punctuation marks must be used correctly to make writing precise and clear. They give writers the ability to control how their writing is read and perceived. They serve a huge role in whatever purpose a writer has: entertainment, inspiration, persuasion, and so on.

Overall, understanding and applying correct punctuation and mechanics is integral to effective written communication. In this blog, we will cover everything there is to know about quotation marks and how they enhance clarity and precision when their functions are utilized properly.

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What are Quotation Marks

Quotation marks can appear either as double (“…”) or single (‘…’). Their main purpose can indicate the beginning and end of a noteworthy word or phrase taken from a source independent of a writer’s text. They sometimes go by other names: “inverted commas”, “quotes,” “double quotes,” or “single quotes.” (Notice how quotation marks were utilized in writing just now.)

Naturally, quotation marks have several other uses such as showing direct quotes, separating dialogues, and accentuating titles of specific words in the written text. As such, many English learners find it confusing. This article will detail the rules and functions of quotation marks to minimize such difficulties.

Let’s look at some examples of quotation marks in sentences:

  • “Have you eaten?” asked Yong Min.
  • “Ravi finished reading ‘Cry to Heaven’ last night,” said Pasha.
  • The word ‘style’ can function as a noun and a verb.
  • Yes, that’s her “boyfriend.”
  • According to my aunt, you “only get as much passion as you give.”
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Quotation Marks Rules

Below is a table of rules for quotation marks and how they’re used.

Dialogues and Direct SpeechTypically used in literature, direct speech, and dialogues refer to the speech spoken by someone. They are always hemmed in single or double quotes, depending on the writer’s stylistic choice. For example:

– “We are moving to the US soon,” said Carl.
– “Are you watching a movie later?” asked Yesol.
– Hamada laughed. “That’s ridiculous.”

Take note that punctuation marks that end direct speech and dialogues appear inside quotes. Verbs that follow them aren’t capitalized even if the direct speech ends in a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
Other Punctuation MarksWith quotations that end with full stops, question marks, or exclamation points, the punctuations appear inside the quotes. Otherwise, periods appear outside quotation marks. It’s worth remembering that this is sometimes a matter of style as there are cases where other punctuations always appear inside quotation marks. For example:

– “Are we there yet?”
– I watched “The Glory”.
– “I’m relieved to hear that.”
Titles and NamesWe use quotation marks to hem in titles and names of movies, films, companies, etc. Some writers choose to set the titles and names in italics, which is also grammatically correct.

– We read “The Lord of the Rings” in high school.
– Do you have the latest issue of “Vogue”?
– “Squid Games” became the hottest show almost immediately after it was released.
Scare QuotesQuotation marks can draw attention to specific words or phrases within a text. We use them to highlight when we want to be ironic or sarcastic or to imply that we think something is inappropriate. Quotation marks for any of these functions are called scare quotes. For example:

– If this is what Randon thinks is “damage control,” I can see why Donna doesn’t trust him.
– The “blood” in the film is made from corn syrup and food coloring.
– According to club rules, only the guests with “gold privileges” can use the lavatory on the third floor.
Table of Rules for Quotation Marks
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Examples of Quotation Marks

  1. “We enjoyed our holiday thoroughly,” said Ramon.
  2. Believe me, he thinks this is “mercy.”
  3. The cat likes to play with the kids so yes, he is “dangerous.”
  4. “No,” Kathy said, “we won’t be doing business with them.”
  5. Neville is a big fan of the “The Hunger Games” trilogy.
  6. According to this, the statue was built “to commemorate the war.”
  7. “Money can’t buy happiness,” is a cliché because it can.
  8. The sign says, “No trespassing.” It’s full of foreboding.
  9. “Will said ‘Don’t touch anything.’ but Kris didn’t comply.
  10. I’ve told you a million times: “I don’t drive!”

Quotation Marks Exercises with Answers

Put quotation marks wherever necessary in the sentences below.

  1. Paige is recovering well, her mother informed us.
  2. Sorry, said the guard at the bank, The ATM machines are under maintenance.
  3. I think, Jack frowned, we should consult Gabby before doing anything.
  4. He did say that my essay on the topic was horrible.
  5. Taejun smiled. I’m relieved that you decided to give me another chance.


  1. “Paige is recovering well,” her mother informed us.
  2. “Sorry,” said the guard at the bank, “The ATM machines are under maintenance.”
  3. “I think,” Jack frowned, “we should consult Gabby before doing anything.”
  4. He did say that my essay on the topic was “horrible.”
  5. Taejun smiled. “I’m relieved that you decided to give me another chance.”
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Punctuations List

Let’s take a look at the list of the most common punctuation marks in English:

Common Punctuation Marks
Punctuation MarkFunctionExample
Period [.]End simple or neutral sentences and abbreviations.– We will hang out at the new bar downtown.
– Yeon Jin announced her resignation.
– Rajesh is a systems analyst for Valka Inc.
Question mark [?]End interrogative sentences.– How much longer will the meeting take?
– Is this the package that Alyn was waiting for?
– Where do you live?
Exclamation point [!]End exclamatory sentences or sentences that express strong feelings.– This is the best day ever!
– I love you!
– Don’t go in there!
Semicolon [;] or Comma [,]Connect complete sentences or enumerate items in a list.– Lee cooked pasta, ribs, and fried chicken for dinner.
– It’s snowing; I need a thicker coat.
– She calibrated the machine and tested it; made adjustments and a report.
quotation marks [” “]Signify quotations.– “Why is she jumping with glee?”
– “Are you hurt?” asked Miko.
– Hana clapped. “That’s great news!”
apostrophe [‘]Show contractions or indicate possessives.– It’s now or never.
– Klaus can’t deal with the news he received.
– Where did you store Lindsay’s clothes?
Table of Common Punctuation Marks
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

In writing, quotation marks serve as tools to indicate direct speech, dialogue, or quotations from sources. They help separate the quoted text from the rest of the writing to present it clearly to readers. Proper use of quotation marks can enhance the readability, clarity, and credibility of a written work. As such, English language learners must understand the rules of using quotation marks, including when to use single or double quotation marks, how to punctuate them, and how to incorporate them into sentences. With consistent practice and attention to detail, English language students can become proficient in using quotation marks effectively.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand to use the colon and apostrophe.

Common Errors Made by English Learners

The following table shows more rules regarding quotation marks, but these are the ones that English learners miss. Study them to avoid making common errors in writing.

Common ErrorsExplanation/Example
Wrong Punctuation1. Some English learners who are beginning to get into writing, put punctuation marks in the wrong position. The rules in this article follow the American English style, which put the period, comma, or exclamation point inside the quotation marks.

– “They’re here!” yelled out my cousin.

2. When a question mark is not included in a quote but is instead part of a larger question that includes the quote, it should be placed outside of the quotation marks.

– Did I hear the lady say “half off”? Exclamation points follow the same rule.
– The lady said, “half off”!

3. When dividing a sentence, ensure to include a comma after the first section within quotation marks.

– “Oh no,” said Lee Shen, “there are moths all over the place.”
CapitalizationWhen quoting a full sentence, the first letter of the first word should be capitalized as in a regular sentence. However, if the quote is inserted within a sentence, the first letter should be lowercase, regardless of whether the original sentence began with a capital letter.

– The announcement began: “All employees are expected to return to their stations.”
– I remember her saying that “take a right after the marker.” If the quoted text is not a complete sentence, there is no need to capitalize.

– He assured me the matter is “being taken care of.”
– They always say the ice cream machine is “broken.”
Quoted ParagraphsIn cases when quoted passages are longer than, especially with two or more paragraphs, use an open quotation mark to begin each paragraph and use the closing quotation mark ONLY at the end of the final paragraph. Example: My boss’s instructions were clear: “Make a list of products with outstanding maintenance coverage in this cycle. “Update the data in the dedicated internal server with expiration date notices and reminders or invitations for renewal.”
Table of Common Errors with Quotation Marks
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Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Quotation Marks

Learning StrategiesExplanation
Language ListsGrammar resources such as lists, tables, charts, and diagrams can be overwhelming with their abundance of information. To make the most of these resources, it’s essential to find ones that are easy for you to comprehend and customize them to fit your study habits. While these tools should not be the sole focus of learning, they are excellent introductions to all grammar concepts, including punctuation. They break down complicated grammar rules into more manageable and understandable patterns, formats, and regulations. Additionally, they often provide practical sentence examples from the real world, which can help expand your vocabulary and enhance your sentence-building skills.
Language ExposureTo achieve advanced language proficiency, relying solely on classroom learning is insufficient. Dedication and effort in independent learning is crucial, particularly when it comes to understanding the diverse contexts of English punctuation. Reading academic papers and creative writing is an effective method to gain this understanding, and creating your own reference material by copying various uses of punctuation allows you to apply what you learn to your writing. Consistent effort in improving writing skills is essential for continuous growth.
Language ExchangeImproving writing skills is an ongoing process that requires dedication and practice. Although classroom learning provides a foundation, it is not sufficient for mastering the art of writing. Independent learning plays a crucial role in achieving advanced proficiency, and connecting with peers who have expertise in punctuation usage is a great way to accelerate this process. Having conversations with fellow students who have experience in punctuation usage allows you to receive first-hand instructions and improve your speaking and comprehension skills. These interactions provide a chance to comprehend how punctuation is used in various contexts, making it easier to apply these rules to your own writing. Enrolling in a writing class provides an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and develop friendships. Coordinating study sessions with classmates, where you can share your writing and complete practice exercises together, can be an enjoyable and beneficial way to enhance your writing skills. During these sessions, you can discuss and analyze each other’s work, receive feedback, and learn from each other’s mistakes.
Table of Learning Strategies for Quotation Marks
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Quotation Marks Frequently Asked Questions

Quotation marks serve the primary function of separating specific words, typically to denote a direct quote. They are also used to indicate titles of certain works or to convey that a phrase does not intend to use a word’s literal meaning.

We use quotation marks in the following instances:

– when quoting someone directly
– transcribing speech into text
– referring to titles of smaller works such as poems
– expressing skepticism about the accuracy of a word
– discussing words as words without reference to their intended meaning
– differentiating between nicknames and formal names.

Titles of works are formatted using either quotes or italics, depending on the type of work being referred to. Typically, shorter works such as poems, songs, or short stories are enclosed in quotation marks, while longer works such as books, films, or stage plays are italicized.

American English uses double quotation marks and single quotation marks for quotes within quotes. Meanwhile, British English observes the opposite. Generally, it’s a stylistic choice.

Yes. Newscasters usually say “quote, unquote,” “start of quote, end of quote,” or “open quotes, close quotes.” In terms of gestures, people normally put up two hands and flick two fingers on each hand to indicate quotes.

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