Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are punctuations that are used to express a direct speech, phrase, or quotation. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

Quotation Marks in English

What Are Quotation Marks?

Quotation marks (also called quotes, speech marks, quote marks) are a kind of punctuation marks (" ").

Why Do We Use Quotation Marks?

Quotation marks ('') are used when there is a direct speech. They are also used to avoid repetition in a list.There are two kinds of speech marks single (‘) and double (“). They usually do the same thing and it doesn't matter which one do you use. But there are places that it’s better to use one of them in particular (even though using the other one won't make it wrong, it’s just better) .

  • direct speech
  • quotations
  • phrases
  • emphasis on a word or phrase
  • to show irony, skepticism and sarcasm
  • when the words not being used in their literal meaning
  • when you refer to words as ‘words’

Here are a few examples:

Using quotation marks in a sentence

He asked, "why are you laughing?"

direct speech

She murmured, "stupid boy."


You can see that 'everybody' is taking part in my lecture.

emphasis on a word or phrase

I don't like this 'music' of his.

to show irony, skepticism and sarcasm (here the writer means that this is not music, this so-called music)

The tv 'knows' when I have homework, it starts playing all the good shows.

the words not being used in their literal (the tv cannot know anything)

How do you spell 'humidity'?

refering to words as 'words'

How Do We Use Quotation Marks?

There are various rules to use quotation marks correctly. Follow the article:

Quotation Marks and Reported Speech

Quotation marks cannot be used with any kind of indirect speech but they can be used in pairs to set of direct speech. Here are the examples:

❌She wanted to know "who was the lead actor."

✔She asked," Who is the lead actor."


When using quotation marks to set off a sentence, you should always capitalize the first letter of the first word of the sentence, even when it is used in the mid-position. Check out these examples:

Pink shouted, "Stop."

We said, " No, you should take control of your life."

When we put a phrase into quotation marks and the phrase is at the middle of the sentence, you should not use capital letters, unless it is a proper name.

He found the "body" inside the river.

We found "Ian" dead, on the corner of "Elm street."

Punctuation Rules

Comma and period always stay inside the quotation marks, dashes, hyphens, colons, and semi-colons almost always go outside the quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation marks can be either inside or outside the quotation marks. If they apply to the whole sentence then they must be outside the quotation marks. For example:

We said, "We want the phone number."

She asked, "What is your name"?

Important Words

Sometimes some phrases and words are important in a context or they need to be bold in a sentence. In this case, you have to put these phrases and words into quotation marks.

"Adverbs" are used to define "verbs," "adjectives," or other "adverbs."

"The reporters" spent the whole night at his door.


In the preceding examples, you can never use a single quotation.

Single Quotation Marks

To use 'single' or "double" quotation marks is really based on whether you want to use American or British English. In the American English convention is to use double quotation marks, while the British English convention is to use single quotation marks. also Single quotation marks are used for quotes within quotes. Single quotation marks can also be used instead of parentheses, when they are used to express alternatives or definitions. Here are the examples:

He said, "Alex would say, 'Yes' to the request."

She said ciao 'Hi' to me.


Semicolons are also used in a list to avoid repetition. Notice that each ('') indicates one word, like:

What adverbs do we need?
adverbs of manner


Quotation marks are ('). They can be used as:

  • single quotation marks (' ')
  • paired quotation marks (" ")

These quotation marks are used to indicate:

  • direct speech
  • quotation
  • phrases (special)


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