Monday, June 16, 2014

The Least You Should Know - Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks are a fickle creature when it comes to punctuation. Where do you put them, when do you put them, how do you put them?

All great questions. Usually quotation marks go around speech. Dialogue. Talking.  Like this little guy here to the left. He's speaking but we don't know what he's saying so we need to give him quotation marks to indicate what is speech.

Got it?

But, did know that you put quotation marks around other things you write besides dialogue? 

Yep, and we're going to learn how to use quotation marks properly in this post.

So, let's begin.


1. Put Quotation Marks around the exact words of a speaker (but not around an indirect quotation)

She said, "I will not go." (Her exact words.)

She said that she would not go. (Not her exact words.)

Whenever that precedes the words of a speaker (as in the last example), it indicates that the words are not a direct quotation and should not have quotation marks around them.

She said, "I will not go. I have other plans. Don't bother picking me up."

The words telling who is speaking are set off with a comma, unless of course, a question mark or exclamation mark is needed.

"I will not go," she said.

He said, "You will go."

"Don't you understand me?" she asked.

"Come here!" he shouted.

Every quotation begins with a capital letter. But when a quotation is broken, the second part doesn't begin with a capital letter unless it's a new sentence.

"Genius," said Anthony, "is the art of taking infinite pains."

"Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated," said David Lloyd George. "You can't cross a chasm in tow small jumps."

Always begin a new paragraph with each change of speaker.

"May I have that brush?" I asked.
"What for?" Nancy said.
"To brush my dog's hair," I replied.


2. Put Quotation Marks around the name of a story, poem, essay, or other short work. For longer words such as books, newspapers, plays, or movies, use underlining (which means italics in print) or use italics.

I like Robert Frost's short poem "Fire and Ice."

Have you seen the movie Star Wars?

Rachel Carson's essay "And No Birds Sing" is found in her book Silent Spring.

We went to see the play The Lion King.



There you have it. Quotation Marks aren't as difficult as we once thought, once we know the rules, right?

Did you get all your questions answered? Do you have more questions about Quotation Marks? Ask in the comments below.