Punctuation: Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to show the exact words (spoken or written) of someone else. These convenient little punctuation marks seem simple enough; however, there are a few rules of convention to follow when quoting.

Quotation marks always come in pairs. If you open a quote with quotation marks, you must close the quote with a second set of quotation marks.
        "The great aim of education is not knowledge but action." -Herbert Spencer

The only exception to this rule is when you have such a long quote that you must begin a new paragraph before the quote is finished. You should open each paragraph with opening quotes, but do not close the quote until the very end.

Periods and Commas
In the United States, periods and commas always go inside the quotation mark. In Britain, the rule for periods and commas is different. The United States follows this convention regardless of logic.
        Henry David Thoreau said, "Be true to your work, your word, and your friend."
        My favorite poem is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken."

Other Punctuation Marks
Contrary to periods and commas, other punctuation marks follow logic rather than convention. For example, a question mark would appear inside the quotation marks if the quotation itself were a question. A question mark would appear outside the quotation marks if the entire sentence were a question.
        Our assignment is to read Emily Dickinson's poem, "I'm Nobody, Who Are You?"
        Have you seen the local theater's version of "Romeo and Juliet"?

Tags indicate the speaker and the manner of the quotation. Tags can appear at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the quote.
        Gordon screamed, "There is a rattlesnake on the front porch!"
        "I haven't been able to find," sighed Garrett, "the answer to this problem for 2 days."
        "We could have a picnic," suggested Trent.

Capitalize the first word of the quotation if the quotation is a complete sentence.
        Curtis asked me, "Have you eaten dinner yet?"

Do not capitalize the first word of the quotation if the quotation is just a sentence fragment, a phrase, or a word.
        The guests reported that the activity was "a waste of time and money."

Do not capitalize the second part of a quotation when it is separated by a tag.
        "When you begin to study a language," the teacher lectured, "the most important thing to remember is to practice.

Quotes within a Quote
When there is a quote within a quote, use single quotation marks rather than double quotation marks.
        The mother announced with delight, "My little baby just said 'mama!'"

Indirect quotations
Indirect quotations are paraphrased or summarized information rather than exact words from someone else. Quotation marks are not used with indirect quotations.
        Her brother said that he did not feel like going camping.
Quotation marks are extremely useful in telling stories and quoting sources in research papers. To practice inserting these punctuation marks in the correct spot, test yourself with this quiz!

  1. Wow Those are terrific pictures exclaimed James
  2. My sister would like to go to the movies with us said Gina May she
  3. This summer promises continued Roger to be a very memorable one for sure
  4. Would you care for another slice of pizza asked Mom
  5. Why did you say I'm better than she is
  6. Mrs. Miller said she wanted the tree projects on her desk first period tomorrow
  7. Mrs. Gardner added We should find out tomorrow
  8. The car sighed Dad needs to be taken to the mechanic
  9. Nick said that he wasn't feeling well yesterday
  10. We have to finish this quickly or we'll get in trouble cried Katie
  11. Which one of you said I can't swim
  12. Why does Karla say I think I know but I'm not sure
  13. Here is the hammer you asked for said Richard
  14. Perhaps you wouldn't be so tired suggested Dad if you went to bed earlier
  15. Excellent work Paul praised Mom
Check yourself with the answers here.

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