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QUOTATION MARKSAlso less formally quote marks, quotes; in BrE also called inverted commas and informally speech marks. PUNCTUATION marks used to open and close quoted matter and direct SPEECH either single (‘ ’) or double quotation marks (“ ”). Double marks are traditionally associated with American PRINTING practice (as in the Chicago style) and single marks with British practice (as in the Oxford and Cambridge styles), but there is much variation in practice; double marks are more often found in British texts before the 1950s, and are usual in handwriting. Quotation marks are a relatively recent invention and were not common before the 19c. Traditional texts of the Bible do not use them and do not suffer from the omission. Quotation marks can be untidy, especially in combination with other punctuation marks and when marks occur within marks. Some writers have therefore avoided them, notably James Joyce, who used dashes to introduce direct speech. Single quotation marks are tidier, less obtrusive, and less space-consuming than double marks, and for this reason are increasingly preferred in Britain and elsewhere in printing styles, especially in newspapers. The uses of quotation marks for direct speech, quoted material, and other purposes are discussed separately below; there is considerable overlap among the various categories.

Direct speech

Quotation marks indicate direct speech (that is, the words of a speaker quoted, more or less exactly) in such forms as BrE He said, ‘Come with me’ and AmE He said, “Come with me”, and BrE “Come with me,” he said and AmE “Come with me,” he said. The marks are normally placed outside other punctuation in sentences of direct speech, such as a final period or full stop, or a comma when the direct speech is interrupted:BrE ‘Go away,’ she said, ‘and don't come back.’
AmE “Go away,” she said, “and don't come back.”
In BrE, they are often placed inside other punctuation marks when they refer to a part of the sentence that is contained within the other marks, as in When you saidGo away’, I was shocked. In AmE, however, the quotation marks are normally placed outside other punctuation in all circumstances, as in When you saidGo away,” I was shocked. Quotation marks are not used in indirect (reported) speech, except occasionally when the enclosed words are regarded as equivalent to a quotation, as in:BrE He then declared that ‘I was incompetent’.
AmE He then declared that “I was incompetent.”
In BrE, the quotation marks are placed within other punctuation because the words referred to are a quotation within the structure of the whole sentence.

Opening marks are given when direct speech is resumed after an interruption such as a reporting clause, as in the examples above. Normally, a COMMA or other punctuation mark separates the ending or resumption of direct speech from its interruption:BrE ‘Certainly not,’ he exclaimed. ‘I would sooner die.’
AmE “Certainly not,” he exclaimed. “I would sooner die.”
Different practices have been advocated from time to time, but the practice described here now prevails. In extended DIALOGUE, the words of each speaker are normally given on a new line when the speaker changes. Speakers are often not named after their first appearance in a run of speech, except to describe some special feature or manner of speaking (as in he exclaimed or she said proudly). The following is from BrE:‘Where is Joseph?’
‘I don't know.’
‘Why isn't he here?’
‘I don't know.’
‘You drove out with him last night.’
‘You returned alone.’
‘You had a rendezvous with the rebels.’
‘You're talking nonsense. Nonsense.’
‘I could shoot you very easily. It would be a pleasure for me. You would have been resisting arrest.’
‘I don't doubt it. You must have had plenty of practice.’
( Graham Greene , The Comedians, 1960)
The following is from AmE:
“He's a dear old friend,” she said to Spizer. “We've known each other since we were kids.”
“Childhood sweethearts?” Spizer said generously.
“No, just dear friends.”
“I did have a dinner date with Marty,” Martha said. “If you had only called.”
“Not a word more,” Spizer said. “I'm taking both of you to dinner. How many real friends do we have in this world?
And you don't know,” he said to Stephan, “how lucky you are.”
( Howard Fast , The Immigrants, 1977)

Headings and titles

Quotation marks are also generally used to designate cited headings and titles, which are in effect equivalent to quotations. Printing practice varies in this regard, italics being widely used to denote titles of books, journals, and newspapers, and quotation marks to denote titles of individual articles or sections within larger works, as in: See Chapter 3, ‘The Middle Ages’, and J. Smith, ‘Some Observations on Magic and Ritual in the Middle Ages,’ in Journal of the Historical Society 3 (1967), 6–16. In many scientific works, however, titles of papers are printed without quotation marks.


Quotation marks may also serve to alert the reader to a special or unusual word or use of a word, such as a foreign expression (as in You need a lot ofsavoir faire’), or to indicate a word or use that is not the writer's own (as in Several ‘groupies’ followed the band on their tour). The latter usage is often formally referred to as scare quotes, because the marks frequently serve as a warning to the reader that there is something unusual or dubious (in the opinion of the writer) about the quoted word or phrase. In CONVERSATION, speakers may indicate their use of such scare quotes by making finger movements that suggest quotation marks: see QUOTE UNQUOTE. This use is close to quotation, the implication being something like Several groupies, as they are often called, followed the band on their tour.

Special conventions

1. When quoted material or direct speech extends continuously over several paragraphs, new paragraphs begin with opening quotation marks, and closing marks are given only at the end of the last paragraph.

2. When quoted material occurs within other quoted material, BrE and AmE adopt opposite conventions. The normal practice in BrE is to use single quotation marks in the first (enclosing) instance and double marks in the second (enclosed) instance: He asked, ‘Have you seen “The Laughing Cavalier”?’ In AmE, double marks are commonly used in the first instance and single in the second instance: He asked, “Have you seen ‘The Laughing Cavalier’?” In both cases, the question mark comes after the marks that relate to the quoted names, and before the mark or marks that close the sentence of speech. See DASH, DIRECT AND INDIRECT SPEECH.