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The Quotation Marks

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Quotation Marks show us which words are part of a conversation or something that someone has said. They show when someone is talking. Quotation marks work in pairs - they are used at the beginning and the end of a quote to separate it from the rest of the writing. You might hear them go by two other names: quotes or inverted commas.

Rules for using the Quotation Marks

Rule 1: Use quotation marks to separate a direct quote (word-for-word) from the rest of the sentence.

  • "I will go to the store," she said.
(Direct quote enclosed in quotation marks.)
  • I replied, "I will join you!"
(Direct quote enclosed in quotation marks.)
  • Matthew told his mother, "I love spending time with you!"
(Direct quote enclosed in quotation marks.)

Rule 2: Use a comma to introduce a quote after words like said, asked, or exclaimed. Quotation marks follow a comma unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.

  • She said, "I finished my homework."
("Said" is followed by a comma before the quote.)
  • Mom asked, "Did you clean your room?"
("Asked" is followed by a comma before the quote.)
  • Mrs. Smith exclaimed, "It's time for a pop quiz!"
("Exclaimed" is followed by a comma before the quote.)

Rule 3: Always keep any punctuation that is part of the quote inside the quotation marks.

  • "The story starts in a cold, dark, scary forest," said the storyteller.
(Commas within the quote remain in the quote.)
  • "Look out! It's a tornado!" shouted Dorothy.
(Exclamation points within the quote remain in the quote.)
  • Stephen asked, "Do you know the way to the beach? I'm lost."
(Question mark and period within the quote remain in the quote.)

Rule 4: Use quotation marks when writing the titles of books, films, magazines, plays, songs, poems, article titles, and chapters. Remember, either quotes or italics are customary for these titles.

  • I watched "Finding Nemo" with my sister.
(Film title - use quotation marks)
  • My favorite book is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
(Book title - use quotation marks)
  • "Gone with the Wind" is both a book and a movie.
(Book/film title - use quotation marks)

Rule 5: Single quotation marks, or single inverted commas, are used when we use quotation marks within quotation marks.

  • He asked, "Would you like to read 'Where the Wild Things Are'?"   (Book title inside a quote - use single quotation marks inside double quotation marks)
 
  • Billy said, "I asked my mom, and she said, 'No.'"   (Quotation inside a quotation - use single quotation marks inside double quotation marks)
 
  • "He proposed and I said, 'Yes!'" exclaimed Sarah.   (Quotation inside a quotation - use single quotation marks inside double quotation marks)
Summary

The handy chart below helps remember the rules and uses of the quotation marks.

NAME Punctuation
Mark
USAGE EXAMPLE
Quotation Mark
(Inverted Commas)
double " "
single ' '
  • Used to separate a direct quote from the rest of the sentence.

  • Use a comma to introduce a quote after words like said, asked, or exclaimed.

  • Always keep any punctuation that is part of the quote inside the quotation marks.

  • Use single quotation marks within quotations.

  • Use quotation marks when writing the titles of books, films, magazines, plays, films, songs, poems, article titles, and chapters.
  • "Hooray! It's summertime!" cried the students.

 

  • She said, "I finished my homework."

 

 

 
  • "Look out! It's a tornado!" shouted Dorothy.

 

 

 
  • Beth told me, "Emma said, 'This will not work.'"

 

 

 
  • I watched "Finding Nemo" with my sister.

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