Everything English

Writing and Grammar Tips (beta)

Contact a customer support specialist at 1-206-494-5992

Posts Tagged ‘Quotation Marks’

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are inverted commas used to quote or exactly set off a sentence, word or phrase that is directly lifted from another source – person or anything else. Quotation marks often go in pairs:  one pair—“—to open quote, and the other pair—”—to close quote.

Example: Holding the thief at gunpoint, the policeman said, “Hands up!” Here, the words—hands up—are the exact words uttered by the policeman (and not the person writing the sentence). Here, “Hands up” is a direct quote and therefore needs quotation marks.

A direct quote can be rephrased or converted into an indirect quote. Indirect quotes do not have quotation marks.

Example: Holding the thief at gunpoint, the policeman asked him to surrender.

More examples:

  • “Where in the world is Neel?” said Uncle Dan.

Uncle Dan wanted to know where in the world Neel was.

  • The lady said, “It is indeed my privilege to meet Mrs. Brown.”

The lady said that is was indeed her privilege to meet Mrs. Brown.

Note that the first letter of the first word in the quote is capitalized always. Also, the period (full stop), comma or the question mark accompanying the closing quotes precedes (and not succeeds) the closing inverted commas. This is an established American rule for using quotation marks. The British system uses the punctuation mark after the closing quotes.

While most of the direct quotes can be converted into indirect quotes, as suggested in the examples above, there are still some phrases that cannot do without quotes even in its indirect version.


The teacher said, “Children loved watching `Jurassic Park’ yesterday.”

The teacher said that the children loved watching “Jurassic Park” yesterday.

Note that the phrase—Jurassic Park—is a title/name of a film and therefore cannot be modified without the inverted commas even if the sentence involving the phrase is converted into an indirect quote. But when the title gets a mention within a direct quote, the quotation mark for the title may be represented by a single inverted comma each—and not a pair—to open and close the quote (refer example above).

For the sake of clarity, keep quotes short. If the quote is unavoidably long, then use the quote as a separate paragraph, appropriately attributing the quote to the source before beginning the paragraph.