When to use quotation marks: Full guide to grammar and writing

We all know that English punctuation can be tricky at times. There’s so much to learn. Don’t worry, there’s a post I did a few months ago about all the English punctuation marks, so if you’re interested, go check that one out. Today, however, we are zoning in on when and how to use quotation marks. Quotation marks can definitely be confusing, even to native English speakers, but then you get into single quotation marks, and then double quotation marks and woah….. utter confusion if you’re not familiar with the way English grammar works. So, stick with me if you want to learn more about quotation marks!

How do I know if I need to use quotation marks?

The main job quotation marks have is sectioning off exact language that someone has either said or wrote. Quotation marks are also used to designate when an act of speech begins in fiction, and sometimes, poetry. Most of the time, quotation marks are used when citing outside sources. This means that one little mistake, such as, you forget to use a quotation marks, and BOOM, it’s plagiarism. That is why learning when, where, and how to use quotation marks is so important. So, basically, always use quotation marks with direct quotes, titles of certain works, to imply alternate meanings, and to write words as words. I know, you’re just dying to learn more about when to use single or double quotation marks now that I’ve mentioned it, but be patient, let’s look a little more into this first.
How To Make Long Sentences In English

Direct quotes

What’s a direct quote you ask? A direct quote is something that someone has said, or written, exactly. You haven’t changed much, if anything, about what they’ve said, and now you need to quote them on it. In doing so, you will need to use quotation marks.

EXAMPLE: “When will you arrive?” she asked.

                “*I’ll arrive in 20 minutes.” he replied.* 

Short titles

Like I said, quotation marks in English can be tricky, but fear not, we are in this together. Quotation marks are also used for the titles of short stories, poems, songs, magazine or newspaper articles, and for chapters in a book.

EXAMPLE: Have you read the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe?
How To Make Long Sentences In English

Alternate meanings

This is a fairly new concept, but it seems as though it has become extremely common to use quotation marks whenever someone is being sarcastic or just truly doesn’t believe in the way the term is being used.

EXAMPLE: Maaya said she was “sleeping”; it looked like she was playing on her phone.

When and how to use double quotes in English

Okay, so the difference between single and double quotation marks is really simple. In fact, it’s mind-blowingly simple. Double quotes are always used. That’s it, well, at least for American English, that’s all you need to know. Double quotes are used for any and every occasion where quotation marks are needed, with only one exception. Now, I bet you want to know what that exception is now, don’t you? Hmph… if I tell you that now, I would have nothing to say in the next paragraph though.


I shouted “get out!”


“To be or not to be, that is the question” – William Shakespeare

When and how to use single quotes in writing

Okay, here’s that exception I mentioned. The only time you will need to use single quotes, in American English, is when you are quoting something inside of a quote. So, essentially, when you have a quote within a quote. Now, Americans like to be different, so don’t think that this is the way everyone uses quotation marks. In fact, I believe British English is the exact opposite. British English uses single quotation marks for emphasis whereas in America we use both single and double quotation marks. Honestly, neither are incorrect. However, in American English, there’s usually just one reason to use single quotations and that is for quotes within quotes.


“The president has prior obligations, but said he ‘wishes he could be in attendance.’”

Finally, now you know! There you have it. Here is the lowdown on quotation marks. You use them always and forever when directly quoting someone, and be sure to do this so that you do not accidentally plagiarize, but also, they are used for titles and sarcasm. Don’t be afraid to use direct quotes. I know, the fear of plagiarism can be strong, but trust me, with the information you now have, you will be just fine!

How To Make Long Sentences In English

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