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.



26 comments:

  1. I just might have to share your posts with my kids...I like the way you explain things...very easy to understand.

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  2. Hi Michelle, that's what I'm here for, to explain things in a way that most anyone can understand. Share away!

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  3. This was an AWESOME refresher! I always feel a bit iffy about the divided quotation as to where the commas go and how to punctuate. This was fantastic! --Lisa

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  4. Glad to provide a refresher. It helps me as well.

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  5. Thanks! This is my pet peeve--one of my bosses over uses quotations and it drives me batty! Oh, and by the way...happy SITS day!

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    1. Thanks, glad you can find it of use. Privately send it to your boss. Maybe they will take the hint. :-)

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  6. I've subscribed to this site on Blog Lovin' because I think I need to see each post! Hardly anyone explains these things anymore....

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  7. GREAT TIPS. and I just updated some of my posts :)
    following from SITS and hope you have a great day!

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  8. Thanks for the insight Vicki, congratulations on being featured on SITS, have a super blessed day!
    Love

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    1. My day was blessed when I woke this morning. Thank you for making it better. Have a blessed day!

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  9. Love it! We could all use the occasional reminder re: correct grammar & writing. Thanks for sharing!

    {{ stopping by from SITS }}

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.

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  10. It's nice to know I'm using quotation marks correctly! Sometimes I doubt myself, and I hate making grammar and punctuation mistakes.

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    1. I do the same thing, doubt myself. It's common. I hope this blog helps!

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  11. Great refresher! It's been so long when I was explicitly told how/when to use quotation marks, and hopefully I've been doing it correctly all these years! Happy SITS day :-)

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    1. Thanks, Bev. Just returning from vacation. Catching up on comments. Glad you enjoyed the blog article on quotations.

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  12. That second tip is quite helpful. After using MLA for so long I sometimes forget when to use quotation marks v. italics. Happy SITS Day!

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    1. Thanks. I totally understand.

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  13. I am SO excited I found you through SITS. I am subscribing to your wisdom awesome tips!! Happy SITS day!!!

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    1. Hi Chris, thanks for the subscription. I hope you'll continue to find useful tips here.

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  14. I have a blog that I just started specifically to improve my grammar (because it's not very good, and the only way to improve is to write!) I subscribed to your blog via Bloglovin. Please, keep the tips comming!

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    1. Hi Gertie. Thanks for subscribing. I hope that you'll find lots of great tips here at Your Writing Coach. If there's anything specifically you are looking for, don't hesitate to ask. I'll research and write just for you.

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