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Quotation mark - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about quotation marks in English. For their use in computer programming, see String literal.

Quotation marks or inverted commas (informally known as quotes[1] and speech marks) are punctuation marks used in pairs to mark a section of text as speech, a quotation, a phrase, or an unusual word. They are used in groups of 2, as a pair of opening and closing marks. They are used in either of two forms: single (‘…’) or double (“…”).

Depending on the typeface, the opening and closing quotation marks may be identical in form (called “vertical” or “straight” or “typewriter” quotation marks), or they may be distinctly left-handed and right-handed (“typographic” or, colloquially, “curly” quotation marks).The closing single quotation mark is identical or similar in form to the apostrophe, and similar to the prime symbol.However, these three characters have quite different purposes.See also: ditto mark.Usage[change | change source]Quotations and speech[change | change source]

Quotation marks show that part of the text is either a person speaking or a quotation. Double quotation marks are used as a rule in the United States, while both single and double quotation marks are used in the United Kingdom and other commonwealth countries. A publisher’s or author’s style can be considered as more important than national preferences. However, the style of opening and closing quotation marks must be matched:‘Good morning, Frank,’ said HAL.“Good morning, Frank,” said HAL.

For speech within speech, the other mark is used for inner quotations, within a quotation:Frank reported that ‘HAL said, “Good morning, Dave,”’.Frank reported that “HAL said, ‘Good morning, Dave,’”.

Sometimes, quotations are nested in more than two levels. Nesting levels up to five can be found in some translations of the Bible.[2] In these cases, questions arise about the form (and names) of the quotation marks to be used. The most common way is to simply alternate between the two forms,[3] thus:“…‘…“…‘ …   … ’……’…”

If such a passage is further quoted in another publication, then all of their forms have to be shifted over by one level.

In most cases, quotations which span multiple paragraphs should be set as block quotations, and thus do not require quotation marks. Quotation marks are used for multiple-paragraph quotations in some cases, especially in narratives. The convention in English is to put an opening quotation mark at the first and each subsequent paragraph, but use a closing quotation mark only for the final paragraph of the quotation, as in the following example from the book Pride and Prejudice:

“I wish you joy.If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help.Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not.

As noted below, in some older texts, the quotation mark is repeated every line, rather than every paragraph. The Spanish convention uses closing quotation marks at the beginning of all subsequent paragraphs beyond the first.

When quoted text is interrupted, such as with the phrase he said, a closing quotation mark is used before the interruption, and an opening quotation mark after. Commas are also often used before and after the interruption, more often for quotations of speech than for quotations of text:“HAL,” noted Frank, “said that everything was going extremely well.”

It is incorrect to use quotation marks for paraphrased speech.This is because a paraphrase is an indirect quote, and in the course of any composition, it is important to document when one is using a quotation versus when one is using a paraphrased idea.

If HAL says: “All systems are functional,” then:Incorrect: HAL said that “Everything was going extremely well.”Correct: HAL said that everything was going extremely well.

However, another convention when quoting text in the body of a paragraph or sentence—for example, in an essay—is to recognize double quotation marks as marking an exact quotation, and single quotation marks as marking a paraphrased quotation or a quotation where grammar, pronouns, or plurality have been changed in order to fit the sentence containing the quotation (see reported speech).Irony[change | change source]

Another common use of quotation marks is to indicate or call attention to ironic or mis-used words:He shared his “wisdom” with me.The lunch lady plopped a glob of “food” onto my tray.She attempted to use her “strength” to lift the weight.

Quotes indicating irony, or other special use, are sometimes called scare quotes. They are sometimes gestured in oral speech using air quotes.Signaling unusual usage[change | change source]

Quotation marks are also used to indicate that the writer realizes that a word is not being used in its current commonly accepted sense.Crystals somehow “know” which shape to grow into.

In addition to conveying a neutral attitude and to call attention to a neologism, or slang, or special terminology (also known as jargon), quoting can also indicate words or phrases that are descriptive but unusual, colloquial, folksy, startling, humorous, metaphoric, or contain a pun:

Dawkins’s concept of a meme could be described as an “evolving idea”.

People also use quotation marks in this way to:distance the writer from the terminology in question so as not to be associated with it. For example, to indicate that a quoted word is not official terminology, or that a quoted phrase presupposes things that the author does not necessarily agree with.indicate special terminology that should be identified for accuracy’s sake as someone else’s terminology, for example if a term (particularly a controversial term) pre-dates the writer or represents the views of someone else, perhaps without judgement (contrast this neutrally-distancing quoting to the negative use of scare quotes)

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), 15th edition[4] acknowledges this type of use but cautions against overuse in section 7.58, “Quotation marks are often used to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense […] They imply ‘This is not my term,’ or ‘This is not how the term is usually applied.’ Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused.”Use–mention distinction[change | change source]

Using either quotation marks or italics can emphasize that an instance of a word refers to the word itself, rather than its associated concept.Cheese is derived from milk.“Cheese” is derived from a word in Old English.Cheese has calcium, protein, and phosphorus.Cheese has three es in the spelling.

A three-way distinction is occasionally made between normal use of a word (no quotation marks), referring to the concept behind the word (single quotation marks), and the word itself (double quotation marks):When discussing ‘use’, use “use”.

The logic, for this form, derives from the need to distinguish use forms, coupled with the mandate to retain consistent notation for like use forms.[5]The switching between double and single quotes in nested citation quotes reveals the same literary device for reducing ambiguity.

Books about language often use italics for the word itself and single quotation marks for a gloss:The French word canif ‘pocketknife’ is borrowed from Old English cnif ‘knife’.Titles of artistic works[change | change source]

Quotation marks, rather than italics, are generally used for the titles of shorter works. Whether these are single or double is again a matter of style; however, many styles, especially for poetry, prefer the use of single quotation marks.Short fiction, poetry, etc.: Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Sentinel”Book chapters: The first chapter of 3001: The Final Odyssey is “Comet Cowboy”Articles in books, magazines, journals, etc.: “Extra-Terrestrial Relays”, Wireless World, October 1945Album tracks, singles, etc.: David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”

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