Quotation Marks Rules: Grammar Guide
Quotation Mark Rules
How to use question marks properly. Below is a list of rules and usages. If you have any additions, please feel free to leave a comment below!
Quotation Marks Around Dialogue
Quotes around dialogue is the most common use of quotation marks. We use quotes around direct quotations or a person's exact words. (This includes printed words or spoken words.) Remember:
- Each set of direct quotes receives its own set of quotation marks.
- Use a capital letter at the beginning of each direct quotation unless the quotation is only part of a sentence.
- When quotations are interrupted mid-way through the sentence, do not begin the second part of the sentence with a capital.
- When stating who is being quoted, use a comma after the dialogue tag and before the quotation marks.
- When you are rephrasing a quoted passage, do not use quotation marks.
- Each new direct quote begins a new paragraph even if it's short.
- David said, "I would rather go to the city on Friday night because they are having a great play in the park."
- David stated that he, "would rather go to the city on Friday night" because of a show in the park.
- "He loves to see plays," Jaymee said, "especially outside."
Quotation Within a Quotation
The Long and Short of It
When quoting long passages, more than four typed lines, indent one inch from the left margin or two tabs, and do not use quotation marks. When quoting poetry that is three lines or longer, indent to the same specifications as a long passage. The poem should be quoted as the poet wrote it. (My indentation is not working, so just pretend the poem is indented.)
- In his poem, "House," Drax writes:
I miss you,
feet of rain on the tin,
wind whispering the weather,
silent stars and satellites,
mist creeping up from the lake,
When quoting one or two lines of poetry, use the rules for any other short quotation.
- In his poem, "House," Drax writes: "I miss you, / feet of rain on the tin," (I used a slash mark to represent a new line.)
Titles-When Don't I Use Quotes?
Underline or italicize these works; DO NOT use quotation marks with these titles:
- Plays that contain more than three acts
- Television or radio shows
- The Bible or other religious texts or documents
- Conference proceedings
- Collections of plays, poems, essays, and short stories
- Long musical compositions
- Albums or CDs
- Works of Art
- Legal cases
Titles-When do I Use Quotes?
Use quotation marks with these titles:
- Short stories
- Short poems
- One-act plays
- Chapters in books
- Articles in newspapers
- Magazine articles
- Journal articles
- Television or radio episodes
- Short literary works
- Unpublished lectures, speeches and papers
- Official titles of art exhibits
Quotes to Indicate Irony
Use quotation marks when you want to emphasize an irony or something unusual. I once had a student ask me, "Mrs. Edmondson, do we have 'homework' tonight?" He put the term "homework" in quotes with his fingers or air quotes. Although his use of quotes was incorrect, he really did have homework that night, it made me laugh. Here's a correct example:
- Even though she has a lot of time off, she claimed that she was too "busy" to help with the school project.
Punctuation with Quotation Marks
- Use commas or standard punctuation within quotation marks unless a parenthetical reference follows the quotation.
- She said, "I love to dance."
- In his book, From Beruit to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedman said, "Every serious Beruit militia...had a spokesman and a few assistants" (66).
2. Colons and semicolons belong OUTSIDE of quotation marks.
- Corie described the day as "absolutely gorgeous"; the sun was shining and the air was crisp.
3. Refer to the complete sentence when providing ending punctuation.
- When did she exclaim, "We won first prize"?
- She exclaimed, "We won first prize!"
Italics or Quotes with Specific Words
Use quotes or italics when specifically referring to a term.
- We use the word it's when referring to the contraction it is.
- We us the word "it's" when referring to the contraction "it is."
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