FR/EN: guillemets (« ») / quotation marks (“ ”) - usage & punctuation

Js100

New Member
English-United States
Are there any differences in French Quotations («») and English quotation("") grammatically? If so what are they?
 
  • Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    The main usage of quotation marks is the same in both languages: quoting or emphasizing words or phrases. The typography rules are however a bit different.

    When using French guillemets, you should add an (ideally thin) non-breaking space on either side of the quoted text (e.g., « Bonjour ! »), whereas no spaces are used with English quotation marks (e.g., “Hello!”).

    In French, any closing punctuation comes before or after the closing guillemet depending on whether it modifies the quoted text or the whole sentence (e.g., Il lui a demandé : « Veux-tu que je t'aide ? » mais c'était à contre-cœur, but, Il a dit : « Je vais t'aider », mais finalement il n'a rien fait). In English, the closing punctuation of a phrase is supposed to come always inside the quotation marks (e.g., He said, “I will help you,” but he never did).
     

    Evhel

    Member
    Français - France
    Bonjour,

    en anglais, lorsque je lis, je remarque que la virgule qui sert normalement à séparer la citation et la suite du texte est implantée juste avant la deuxième quotation mark.
    Exemple :
    Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune, said the giant. — Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Alors qu'en français, on écrirait :
    « Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune », said the giant. — Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Pourquoi fait-on cela ? Merci à vous.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    In English, the closing punctuation of a phrase is supposed to come always inside the quotation marks (e.g., He said, “I will help you,” but he never did).

    This is true only in America. Here in Britain you enclose the punctuation in the speech marks only if the punctuation is part of the quotation. In your example we write: He said "I will help you", but he never did.
     

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    More precisely, in the UK the standard rule is indeed not to enclose trailing commas inside quotations for true quotations, i.e., sentences that were actually spoken. But, as strange as it may be, the rule is to follow American style for fictional dialogues as in Harry Potter's example above.
     

    Robert K S

    Senior Member
    United States (English)
    How is a quote within a quote rendered in French? In America, we have the special rule to use single quotes to demarcate a quotation that is inside another quotation in double quotes. Example: "As I once told you," I repeated to him, "Mark Twain didn't say, 'Honesty is the best policy.' He said, 'Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it.'"

    How would this be rendered in French? Double guillemets? Are double or single quotes ("", '') ever used in French?
     

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    How is a quote within a quote rendered in French?
    There are different ways to render this. The standard way is to use English double quotes (“…”) for quotes within a quote:

    « Comme je te l'ai dit une fois, je lui ai répété, Mark Twain n'a pas dit : L'honnêteté est la meilleure politique. Il a dit : L'honnêteté est la meilleure politique… quand il y a de l'argent en jeu.” »

    I however prefer single guillemets (‹ … ›) instead of English double quotes, but this is only used in Switzerland as far as I know:

    « Comme je te l'ai dit une fois, je lui ai répété, Mark Twain n'a pas dit : ‹ L'honnêteté est la meilleure politique. › Il a dit : ‹ L'honnêteté est la meilleure politique… quand il y a de l'argent en jeu. › »

    We however never use English single quotes (‘…’) in French as they are too easily confused with apostrophes (').

    For more details, please refer to FR: citations imbriquées - quotation within a quotation - typography.
     

    maicart

    Senior Member
    Spanish, Spain
    Can I make a combination of "tiret" and "guillemets" in the same dialogue? Example:

    Après une longue pause, Anne-Laure te demande : « Qu'y a-t-il ? »
    — Rien, réponds-tu.
     

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland

    acme_54

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I would really appreciate it if someone could tell us the keyboard combination to type guillemets. I'm currently copying and pasting them from Internet and it's rather laborious.
     
    Top