Punctuation and Quotation Marks Help
Quotation marks are used to set off the exact words said by someone. Notice the difference between a direct and an indirect quotation:
- Direct quotation: My doctor said, "You should worry more about taking antibiotics you don't need than about not taking one at all."
- Indirect quotation: My doctor said that I should worry more about taking an antibiotic I don't need than about not taking one at all.
In the second sentence, which small word tells you that this is an indirect quotation, that you don't need quotation marks? The word is that. That introduces the report of something said.
Look at the following examples:
- Incorrect: My doctor continued many upper respiratory infections are viral, so antibiotics won't help.
- Correct: My doctor continued, "Many upper respiratory infections are viral, so antibiotics won't help."
- Incorrect: She explained that "bacteria almost immediately learn how to override our prescription."
- Correct: She explained that bacteria almost immediately learn how to override our prescription.
No quotations marks are needed. The word that makes this sentence a report of what the doctor said, not a direct quote.
- Incorrect: She advised, always ask three questions before you accept the prescription: Is it necessary, is there a less powerful drug, and can I wait a few days to see if I get better?
- Correct: She advised, "Always ask three questions before you accept the prescription: Is it necessary, is there a less powerful drug, and can I wait a few days to see if I get better?"
Remember to capitalize the first word in the direct quotation.
How to Use Quotation Marks
- Use quotation marks to set off the exact words of a speaker. Place a comma between the speaker and the quoted words. A period is placed inside a quotation. A semicolon is placed outside the closing quotation mark.
- When a quotation is broken, use quotation marks to set off both parts.
- Never use two forms of punctuation at the end of a quotation. When the entire sentence is a question, but the quotation is not, place the question mark after the closing quotation marks.
Alex said, "I can design a desk that will be large enough for the two of you to work at."
You said, "Plan a partner's desk for me"; so I planned one.
Capitalize the first word of the second part of the quotation only if it is the beginning of a new sentence.
"Well, how could we have been on time," she asked, "when the traffic was bumper-to-bumper the entire way?"
"Well, how could we have been on time?" he complained. "The traffic was bumper-to-bumper the entire way!"
Did you hear Henry say, "Give your time to the charity if you don't have any money to spare"?
Was Mark's request, "Be in early tomorrow, people," the last thing you heard before you left?
When the quoted portion is a question, place the question mark inside the quotation marks.
Henry said, "Can you give some of your time to the charity instead of giving cash?"
Alicia responded, "Can you give me time off so that I can give that time to charity?"
- Rule 3 in the previous section applies to the exclamation mark as well:
- Use quotation marks to enclose titles of poems, articles, chapters, or any part of a book or magazine.
- Use a single quotation mark for a quotation within a quotation.
Place it outside the quotation marks if it refers to the entire sentence; place it inside the quotation marks if it refers to the quotation only.
"Please give! We're desperate for cash to carry on our important work!" the director pleaded.
I'm sure you heard how furious I was when he said, "We'll meet again tomorrow and the next day as well"!
The third chapter of The ABC's of Evaluation is entitled, "Decision Making: Whom to Involve, How, and Why."
Jason asked, "Can you tell me if Marc said, 'I've already paid off the cost of the repairs' when you discussed his financial situation?"
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