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When To Use Single Or Double Quotation Marks?

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    Before getting into when you should use single or double quotation marks you should understand the difference between quote and quotation.

    To quote someone you are simply repeating back or writing down what they have said. A quotation is a noun which describes what is being quoted.

    The difference being a quote “Four score and seven years ago . . .” as opposed to writing down quotations from Jay Leno’s monologue the night before.

    You must understand that there are different grammar rules for American English and British English. The rules following are for American English.

    How To Use Double Quotation Marks

    Double quotation marks are used primarily for quoting what someone is saying or has said.

    Other uses include: titles of television show episodes or magazine articles, ironic or scare quotes in sentences, or to highlight words.

    An example of episode quotations is when you refer to “The Lightning Thief” episode of Batman and Robin.

    For ironic or scare quotes consider the statement: The mayor was “concerned” about his voters.

    The writer is letting you know that there is sarcasm in writing about the mayor’s concern.

    As for highlighting words, you can use double quotations but italics or even underlining are considered more acceptable.

    Rules For Single Quotation Marks

    Single quotation marks are used for headlines when writing in the Associated Press style.

    Theology and philosophy books often use single quotation marks to highlight words. Most often, single quotation marks are used to show a quote within a quote.

    An example of this is if you are writing a story from an outside point of view and wrote, he said “Lucy scared me to death when she screamed, ‘There’s a snake in your bed.’”

    Essentially this is the person talking who is quoting someone else. When writing single and double quotes together it is important to separate the two with a space.

    Punctuation Rules In Quotation Marks

    If you are highlighting a word it is acceptable to use double or single quotation marks. However, it is more accepted to use italics.

    Remember to keep the rest of the punctuation in the correct order when using quotation marks.

    If the period or comma is part of the sentence located inside the double or single quotation marks, and then places it inside the mark.

    If the comma, semicolon or period is part of a larger sentence in which the quote is buried then place it outside the quotation marks.

    The important item to remember is to apply the punctuation to the correct sentence.

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