Just as tricky English grammar rules are, it is difficult to determine some minor rules which make a major impact on your writing. For instance, even the most seasoned writers, at times get confused with regard to the usage of single or double quotation marks. Since the confusion over the usage of quotation marks continues to linger, here’s a list of some rules that you might consider before concluding whether to use double or single quotation marks.
An important aspect of quotation marks is that they come in pairs, that is, the first set opens a quote and the second, closes it. Thus, it is important not to forget to close the quotes once opened.
He shouted, “Go to your room, now! – Incorrect
He shouted, “Go to your room, now!” – Correct
When you are quoting someone, meaning, writing the exact words as mentioned by someone else, then use double quotation marks.
“I’m going to work”, he said.
Mark said, “Should we start the meeting?”
When you are quoting someone else within a quote, in this case both, single as well as double quotation marks are used to separate the two quotations from each other.
‘I haven’t seen her since ages,’ Brienne said, ‘The last time I had seen her on John’s birthday party she said, “I’m going to the States and won’t be back soon”, ‘I miss her so much’.
Unfamiliar or coined terms
There are times when you may come across single or double quotation marks used to highlight certain unfamiliar or coined words or expressions:
I found him to be very annoying, a ‘pain in the neck’.
I am doubtful about your inference to “custodial care”, can you please explain it to me?
When quoting titles of songs, stories, short poems, plays, articles, television programs, etc., double quotation marks are used.
“As You Like It”, by Shakespeare.
David Attenborough’s “Trials of Life”.
Referring words as words
Quotation marks are also used when referring a particular word as a word or a phrase as that phrase.
The word “television” is derived from both Greek as well as the Latin language.
TIP TO REMEMBER:
While quotation marks are important, it should also be remembered to avoid using unnecessary quotation marks. Irrelevant usage of quotation marks gives an impression of incorrect grammar and amateurish writing. There are several times when quotation marks are used by writers to give emphasis on particular words. For example:
Most people know that diet and exercise are important to lose weight yet they don’t do what they “already know”.
This should be avoided as it is a sign of poor English writing.
Usage of quotation marks should be made only when required and not otherwise. Too many quotation marks, be it single or double, ruins the tone of the writing.
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