Grammar Lesson: Quotation Marks
When working with quotation marks (" "), follow these rules. This is the first of three pages about quotation marks.
- Use quotation marks before and directly after a speaker's exact words.
- The lifeguard told the swimmers, "Please move down between the green flags."
Note: Use a comma to separate the speaker's exact words from the sentence's other parts.
- "Please move down between the green flags," the lifeguard told the swimmers.
Note: You do not have to use quotation marks around an indirect quotation.
- The lifeguard told the beachgoers to move between the green flags if they wanted to go into the water.
Note: A direct quotation usually begins with a capital letter. If the quotation is not in its entirety, it often begins with a lowercase letter.
- Mikki believes that "honesty is its own reward."
- "Since the flowers are starting to bloom," said Chris, "we should not step into the garden."
Note: If the second part of a direct quotation is a complete sentence, start that part with a capital letter. Insert a period after the unquoted portion.
- "This is beautiful!" responded Mrs. Alsager. "Keep it going!"
Note: If a person's exact words are more than a single sentence and are not divided, use only a single set of quotation marks.
- "Waves gently lapped the shore. Children played in the sand," the man reported.
- Use a question mark or an exclamation mark within the closing quotation mark if the question mark or the exclamation mark is part of the quotation.
- "Is this the correct tool?" the assistant asked the machinist.
- The soldier screamed to his comrade, "Move away now!"
Note: If a question mark or an exclamation mark is a part of the whole sentence (and not just a part of the direct quotation), place the mark outside the quotation marks.
- Did Mr. Boland say, "You have only two choices left"? (The entire sentence, not the quotation, is a question.)
- I was so ecstatic when Jenny said, "You are our choice for class rep"! (The entire sentence, not the quotation, is the exclamation.)
- "Please help me lift this rug," Mom requested Roberta.
- "This is absolutely awesome!" the captain told her crew.
- "Will it be sunny tomorrow?" the news anchor asked her staff.
- There are two main characters in O. Henry's story "The Gift of the Magi": Jim and Della.
- Karen remarked, "These two cars are full of supplies for the picnic"; only then did we realize that there was no room for any additional passengers.
- When you are writing dialogue, start a new paragraph each time the speaker changes.
- "We need to remodel the upstairs bathroom," Mom said to Dad.
- He asked her, "How much do you think that this job will cost us? I think that I will probably be able to do most of the work."
- "Great!" Mom replied. "Let's talk about the project again tomorrow."
- Use only the opening quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph when you are quoting a passage of more than one paragraph. The only time to include the closing quotation marks is at the end of the concluding paragraph.
- "The bridge was built after the immigrants began to come into the burgeoning city in large numbers. This bridge was not a luxury; it was a necessity. People demanded it, and the politicians responded quickly to their demands.
- "Then the good times for construction workers began—and continued—for the next three decades. There was always work—and plenty of it. To be able to use a saw and hammer meant that you were able to feed your family."
- Use quotation marks to enclose the titles of the following: chapters, songs, articles, short poems, and short stories.
- "Before Hitting the Water" (chapter) from Kayaking for Fitness
- "America the Beautiful" (song)
- "More Strain, More Injuries" (article)
- "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (short poem)
- "Beware of the Dog" (short story)