Using Quotation Marks Correctly
The "Quotation Mark"
Speech marks. Quotes. Quotation marks. Whatever you want to call it - these pesky critters seem to be the bane of most of my student's writing. When correcting papers I have gotten anything from "Hello"! to "Why"' she asked?.
Its not pretty, to say the least. However, its not the end of the road. There are many simple things that you can do to remember what piece of punctuation precedes what, and where everything should go. Here I will explain how punctuation interacts with quotation marks, and the proper way to quote things in English writing.
The first thing that we know about quotation marks is that they mark quotations.
"I said it would be easy."
And it will be! However, what happens when you quote someone quoting someone? You use regular double marks for the person actually speaking, and then a singular mark for someone not.
"I know he 'said it would be easy' but I am not so sure anymore."
Don't worry! That's all for basic quotation marks!
Advanced Quotation Mark and Punctuation Orders
In the United States, periods and commas go inside quotation marks. In British English they go outside.
In both British and US English, exclamation and question marks go outside the quotation marks, unless said mark is only supposed to be with the sentence or phrase in quotations.
Quotation marks and semicolons and colons interact the same way as periods and comas do in British English - they go outside quotation marks.
Asterisks and dashes, along with anything else should go outside quotation marks as well. Please read the following for examples.
Advanced Quotation Mark and Punctuation Examples
A short conversational narrative. It even has quoting a quote that is quoting something, just for fun!
A: "Did you know, Beethoven's Symphony Number 5 was voted onto a list of the Top 100 Songs That Changed History?"
B: "I'm not sure I know what song that is... Oh, wait! Isn't that usually called 'Beethoven's Fifth'?"
A: "Yes... Perhaps you should spend more time listening to music than watching that TV."
B: "But I love 'Who's Line Is It Anyway?' and will never give it up."
A: "That's funny, that sounds like the last words of a murder victim from the book I was reading. '"But I love this show," she said, 'and I will never give it up!"' And then she died. I guess she gave it up rather quickly..."
B: "Is that song kind of strange threat?"
A: "Of course not, but I am offended you would think that way and am leaving!"*
B: "Fine! Bye"-
*He said rather angrily, I might add.
There you have it! I think I threw in every possible combination of punctuation possible.
Quotation Mark Troubles Gone
Hopefully you have been able to learn a bit about how this whole messy thing works. Honestly, it can be confusing, and sometimes I have to look it up myself. Sometimes you see something that is wrong so many times that you start to wonder if you yourself are wrong. However, stay strong and keep checking your grammar and punctuation! It is one of the main things that helps us function as a society - and one of the main things people look at when hiring, not firing, or judging your social worth!
Have fun, and good luck with whatever you are writing!