Quotation marks (Part II)

October 26, 2009

quotations

Do you have the use of quotation marks down pat? 

Okay, as promised, we need to discuss the placement of quotation marks when other punctuation are present.  When commas or periods occur with quotation marks, English speakers in the United States will place the ending comma or period inside the quotes while in the United Kingdom or Canada, logic influences the placement of the comma or period.  Basically, if the punctuation relates to the quoted material, it goes inside. When it is part of the sentence, and not the quoted material, the period or comma goes outside.

Example:

Charles Dickens once said, “A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” (United States)

Charles Dickens once said, “A loving heart is the truest wisdom”. (United Kingdom and Canada)

 

Be careful!  This is only applicable for the comma and period, not for other ending punctuation like a question mark (?) or exclamation point (!), where the punctuation always go either before or after the quotation marks depending on whether punctuation is also part of the quoted material.

Example:

Did Charles Dickens once say, “A loving heart is the truest wisdom”?  (quoted material not part of question)

She asked, “Did you just say that the quote is from Charles Dickens?” (quoted material is part of question)

 

Now, a more complicated issue is what happens when quoted material is placed within quoted material, for example, when the writing is mentioning what someone is saying and that person is quoting someone else?

When this happens, the author would put double quotes around the speech that his informant said then single quote around what this person said that someone else said:

Example:

She said, “Charles Dickens once said, ‘A loving heart is the truest wisdom.’”

 

Last time, it was mentioned that writers may try to put others’ speech inside quotation marks to distance themselves from the speech or to suggest an alternative meaning to a certain word or phrase.  However, sometimes you may see that words or phrases are placed within quotation marks for emphasis. This should not be done as it would make readers wonder about the true meaning. Instead, one should underline or italicize the word.  On paper, underlining is probably going to be the chosen method while on the computer, italicizing is the better choice.

Example:

An advertisement at a retail store may read: “Low” prices  (This suggests that the prices might actually not be that low.)

Instead, underlining or italicizing should be used: Low prices OR Low prices

 

Last episode mentioned that titles of larger pieces of written work should be underlined or italicized. Here is a list of them:

Books

Journals and magazines

Plays

Long musical pieces

Television and radio programs

Famous speeches

Example:

Lincoln’s famous speech The Gettysburg Address

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

 

OK, that wraps up Part II on quotation marks!

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