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Quotation Marks - Grammar Errors

Updated on August 15, 2016
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Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts and culture and sharing that knowledge.

Try Quoting These Guys

Quotes and Quotations

Using quotes is like finding a quibbling twin to mar your writing: you either face-off and make a truce, or he fouls you up and you flub. They’re used for repeating or copying what someone has said or written.

Twins are copies of DNA. They make you see double.

If you act like you’re quoting someone, it also takes two hands to prove your point.

I’m proving my point:

"That's me"...and I quote.
"That's me"...and I quote. | Source

What Are They?

People have made nouns, verbs and even hand motions based on the idea of the quote – it can get tricky.

What exactly am I talking about when I am using quotes?

Well, I’m using it incorrectly in the above sentence. Many people do. The word “quote” is short for “quotation.” I have a feeling it’s going to go the way of the “bus”: it used to be called autobus. Now, if someone says that, it sounds like some disease – an auto-immune disease or something or...some kind of succubus. Ew.

A quotation is a noun. “Quote” is a verb. You use quotation marks to quote quotations. (You can quote me on that.)

For now, I’m going to anger the grammar gods (or perhaps incite the anger of my evil twin) and use the word “quote.” Besides, I have to think about how much time I’ll lose trying to write the word “quotation” every time it’s going to appear in this hub.

"At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the 'what if - what then' approach to writing and illustration."
Chris Van Allsburg

You might also like:

Me, Myself or I - Rules and Uses For These Meddlesome Words

Gender-Neutral Pronouns: Is That Alien a He, She or an It?

The Apostrophe - Astute and Adept

Then and Than: Exercises and Videos

When do you use quotation marks?

I know, I know, I just used the whole word: quotation. But when do you hear about “quote marks”?

Those little marks are like a double apostrophe - an apostrophetic twin:

To make things worse, they always appear in doubles: “” (Are they now quadruplets?)

Though they always appear in doubles, sometimes they appear singly-double: ‘’

But why?

The story on the apostrophetic twin (“”) goes like this:

They set off titles to magazine articles, hubs, or episodes on TV shows:

I recently read “Twins” in the National Geographic Magazine. Now, I’m seeing double.

Some would argue, like the MLA, that you’re supposed to italicize the above. That’s okay, too, and is often preferred. But since this is the “quote show,” you can use quotes, too – especially since my sentence is already italicized.

People use them to highlight ironies or other disdainful words, or to show that a word is otherwise special:

“Converse and Donverse” have to be the craziest names for twins that I have ever heard.

They’re also used to show a "word" as an example:

I can never tell the difference between Peter and Paul. So, I just call them “Peterpaul.” That way, I never worry about who is who. “Peterpaul” is very handsome, too.

You can also italicize words to show them as an example. But, since my sentence is an example in italics, quotation marks fit in perfectly.

Now, these quibbling twins shan’t be used to set off ordinary words. Every word can’t be extraordinary:

Eenie and Meenie are “gorgeous.”

Uh, really? Are you being sarcastic? Are they all pimply and unsightly and you’re just trying to be nice? Indeed, twin apostrophes are confusing enough without exaggerating their use. Besides, you make people start questioning the meaning you want to convey. Do you want them to think you're an evil twin? Or, you might start seeing double.

Eenie and Meenie are “gorgeous.”

Words and phrases do exist in the English language with multiple uses. It’s okay to use those quirky twins:

Peterpaul “lit into” me when I called him/them that word. I didn't know which twin he was! Perhaps he’d like it better if I called him “Paulpeter.”


What About Single Quotes

Perhaps Frick got tired of Frack and abandonment ensued. Mila left Milo to fend for himself in the evil world of punctuation.

Not really. The apostrophetic twins live on. But, they have to assert their individuality – at least sometimes.

Tweedle Dee said to his brother, “Tweedle Dum, when did you say ‘I love you’ to Alice?”

A quote within a quote is the biggest reason to use a single mark.

When To Use Them

If you have a mirror handy, you might use it to help you assert the following:

  • Commas and full stops always go inside quotation marks.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, I declare that I am the most beautiful human of them all.”

  • Question marks, exclamation points and dashes go outside of quotation marks, unless those are inherently part of a quotation.

“Mirror, mirror, why won’t you answer me?” she said. Was she sane or "insanely crazy"?

Ned and Ted said, “we are wearing purple”; they love rain. They began to sing "Purple Rain."


I’ll end with some illustrious advice from a fellow writer:

"I write lustily and humorously. It isn't calculated; it's the way I think. I've invented a writing style that expresses who I am."
Erica Jong

© 2012 Cynthia Sageleaf


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    • albertsj profile image

      jacy albertson 5 years ago from Lake Mary, Fl

      Wow, I could really "learn" from this. ; ) I'm terrible with this stuff. I'm printing out all off your gramar related hubs. And studying them. It might be in my best interest, since I'm writing. Don't you think? ; )

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hahaha, Jacy, you are too cute! Hopefully you can decipher what I'm saying. I'm enjoying writing these, though. They're quite fun to try to put different themes to and then run with it. :D

    • albertsj profile image

      jacy albertson 5 years ago from Lake Mary, Fl

      And good usual. Voting up and useful.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Aw, thanks for the votes and stopping by again, Jacy.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh I have my work cut out for me. I am honored that you wrote this and you have no idea how much you have helped me...again! Great hub, wonderful if I can only remember all this stuff! :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      billy - there will be a quiz. I'll spring it on you in the next hub. :D Hehehe. I was hoping you'd stop by and see this. After all, you were the inspiration for the subject. Hehehe. Keep on writing your awesome hubs!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Whoa, I didn't know about certain punctuation marks needing to go in and others needing to go out. I always put them in. Thanks for that clarification and great pic of you. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub and some very useful information. I can always use a refresher course in quotations and other puctuation. Thanks!!!

    • hush4444 profile image

      hush4444 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you so much for this hub! You have a very clever way of presenting information without sounding at all pedantic, which is not easy! I look forward to reading more of your hubs.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, thanks alocsin for stopping by and for the votes.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      tammy - thanks so much for your great comments. I appreciate your stopping by! Glad I can help with your punctuation refreshers. :D

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      hush4444 - thanks so much for your kind words. I like the use of "pedantic" too. may have just given me a hub idea on "fun-sounding" words like "amalgamate" or "vituperative". Hehehe. Thanks so much for your comments. :)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I love reading your hubs on grammar and language skill. I'm bookmarking this one.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hey thanks, Vinaya. I'm so glad you found this helpful.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      This was interesting. I didn’t know the rule that commas and full stops always go inside, I thought it was the same as for other punctuation, so that’s useful as it often confuses me.

      In the UK, although we learn at school to use double quotations marks in the way you’ve described here, for some bizarre reason books are printed with single quotations as the main form, with the double quotation marks being used for quotes within quotes. So perhaps it’s not surprising I’m confused at times!!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Wow, Melovy! I didn't know that in the UK it's just about the opposite for books with quotation marks. That's really interesting.

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 5 years ago from United States

      That for the nice Quotation marks

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      htodd - thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments. ;)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      great work Cindi. I've never had problems using quotations properly, but it's amazing how many people do! Up and shared. Very enjoyable!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Justin - great to see you. I gotta tell ya, that RHCP song is STILL in my head, lol. Thanks for your awesome comments and for SHARING - you are awesome. You referred to "quotations" perfectly. ;)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      You are one of the best experts I know - and you can quote me on that. Fantastic hub, as always. Voted up and useful!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Marcy - aw, you're an amazing writer, so I KNOW that I must be doing something "write" (haha) for you to stop by with such wonderful compliments. Thank you so much. (HUGS)

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      She writes well. I voted up. It is so informative and funny.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      IntegrityYes - hehe. Thanks for stopping by!! I'll continue to quibble. ;)

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