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-   -   Quotation Marks (http://forums.writersbeat.com/showthread.php?t=14387)

Devon 09-01-2008 02:04 PM

Quotation Marks
 
Quotation marks

Whether double or single, quotation marks enclose words, phrases, clauses, sentences and even paragraphs. Punctuation varies. It's generally accepted, however, that periods and commas belong inside quotes, colons and semicolons belong outside.

“I don't think that thing suits you.” (period inside quotes)
“I just got a new bike,” he said. (comma inside quotes)
It certainly wasn't like that other “thing”: that two-headed tube worm. (colon outside)
She had earned the nickname “snail”; she was slow and very slimy. (semicolon outside)

Note: Except in dialogue, a comma is sometimes placed outside quotes. It is considered grammatically correct to write Twelve of those little monkeys hadn't read the short story “Hilltop Manor”, but I'm sure they will soon, but conventionally accepted to write Twelve of those little monkeys hadn't read the short story “Hilltop Manor,” but I'm sure they will soon.

Question marks and exclamation points are sometimes in and sometimes out, depending on the situation. If they are part of the quoted material, they should be inside, otherwise, they should be kept out.

“What did you mean by that?” (question mark inside)
“I don't really know!” (exclamation point inside)
Who was it that said “All's well that ends well”? (question mark outside)
I couldn't believe it when he called the show “smarmy”! (exclamation point outside)

New writers often misplace or forget punctuation before the end quotes in characters' speech. Keep your commas, periods and other marks where they belong.


One tricky aspect of quotation marks can occur when you are quoting direct speech. Although it is acceptable to use either single or double quotation marks, when quoting direct speech we use double quotation marks inside single quotations marks, or single quotation marks inside double quotations marks. But do not use single quotation marks inside of single quotation marks, or double quotation marks inside of double quotation marks.

Example:

"His last words to his doctor before he died," said James, "were 'You're fired!'"

or

'His last words to his doctor before he died,' said James, 'were "You're fired!"'

But not:

"His last words to his doctor before he died," said James, "were "You're fired!""

'His last words to his doctor before he died,' said James, 'were 'You're fired!''


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