Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

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Quotation Marks

Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.


Quotation marks are a type of punctuation that are either used around direct quotations or used around titles of short works. When using quotations, it is important to remember that punctuation generally goes inside of quotation marks and if there is a quote within a quote, we use single quote marks. When citing quotations, the parenthetical citation should be placed after the quotation mark.

Let's talk about quotation marks. So we've got these quotation marks. We've got three ways that we can use them.

First, and probably the most common ways to use quotation, are to use them around direct quotations. So when you're taking somebody else's words directly from a source, and using it in your own writing, you've got to put quotes around it to indicate that that's somebody else's words.

Now you don't want to use quotes if you're paraphrasing something, or summarizing something. So remember, those quotes go just around somebody else's direct quotation like, "I want that," he whined.

Also, use quotations around the titles of short works. The way I like to remember what works qualify as short, is anytime that they exist inside something else, like; chapters in a book, poems in an anthology, articles in a newspaper, episodes in a TV show. If it's the smaller entities, they're going to be considered short, and you want to put quotation marks around them.

Something like, I love the short story "A good man is Hard to Find." Because this is something that's probably found in larger anthology. So those are our reasons, or the different ways that we're going to use quotation marks.

What gets sticky with quotation marks, is that they tend to have a lot of rules around them in terms of punctuation. So I just wanted to talk a little bit about those. So quotes inside of quotes get single tick marks. This is something I get asked all the time. So if you've got this example, according to Time, "Patrick Henry yelled 'give me liberty, or give me death'". We've got two quotes there. So if I'm taking this big one from Time Magazine, that's talking about Patrick Henry, and within it, it's giving me a direct quote that he said, I put the double quotation marks around what I've pulled from the source. Then when I get to that quote that's inside the source, I give it a single tick mark. So just the apostrophe key, if you're typing it.

So you've got around the 'give me liberty or give me death'. So you can see at the end it looks a little funny, but you're going to close with an apostrophe, and then a quotation mark. So it looks like you've got three tick marks. So that's what you do with quotes inside of quotes.

Now typically, and not all the time, there's always exceptions to rules, but typically, when you're quoting something, your punctuation mark should go inside of the quotes. So you see here that I ended the sentence with a period inside these quotation marks.

There are some exceptions here. We're going to talk about one of them right now. If you cite a quote, so if you include a parenthetical citation here, you are going to move that end punctuation mark to the outside of the citation. So you're going to take it off the end, leave your quotes there, and then you're going to insert your citation.

So let's say this was by an author named Smith on page 20, close your citation, and then the end mark goes out there. So that's just something to note, when you're including those parenthetical citation. Hopefully, you're doing that if you're taking a bunch of direct quotations from different sources. So that's what we covered right here.

The only other exception, and we'll get to it in just a little bit, is that, when you have question marks, or exclamation points, you want to make sure that they go with this statement. So if the quote is an exclamation or question, that punctuation mark goes inside. If the entire statement is a question or an exclamation, it's going to go outside. That will make a little bit more sense when we look at it.

So let's take a look at these examples, and see if we can insert our quotes in the right spot. So we've got; The cab driver screamed, No I cannot get you to the airport in 20 minute! So we know, 'no I cannot get you to the airport in 20 minutes' is what the cab driver is saying. So we've got to put quotations marks around it.

So we're going to start them out here. You'll notice we led into it with a comma. Then now what we've got to decide at the end, we've got an exclamation point. So you've got to ask yourself the question, does the exclamation point go with the quote? Or does it go with the whole sentence.

In this case, it goes with the quote. The cab driver screamed is not an exclamation at all, but what he screamed is. So in that case, we're going leave the exclamation point inside the quotation marks, in order to indicate that it belongs to that quotation.

Let's take a look down here. Make sure you read the short story, The Lottery, for homework tonight. Well, it's a short story. It goes inside of something else. So we know we've got to set the short story off with quotation marks.

Then finally, "Haven't you ever wondered what she means when she says see you later?" So we've got somebody saying 'see you later'. Here is our quotes, so we're going to start it here. Now we've got that question mark which is another one of those sticky situations.

Remember, we've got to ask ourself does the question mark go with the quote, see you later, or does it go with the larger statement, haven't you ever wondered? Here, it goes with that larger statement. So we want to indicate that by putting it outside of the quotation marks. So we're going to close these quotation marks before we put the question mark there.

So here you guys have some examples of how to use question marks in your writing. Hopefully this made it a little bit clearer.

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