Quotation marks. Usage of double and single quotes ("... " & '...')

Discussion in 'English Only' started by rum, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. rum

    rum New Member

    Hindi, India
    Can you please explain the usage of double and single quotes ("... " & '...')in a sentence.

    Are "..." used when we quote someone and '...' is used to highlight something???

    Eg: Mr Rick, President of the Prints Group added: This alliance makes sense and will have a positive impact on the global markets."

    Eg 2: Print Group has tied up with Steeps Ltd, USA for the manufacture of MIRRA Unicombs.
  2. maxiogee Banned

    " is used to indicate a direct quotation.
    ' is used to highlight (I do this a lot here and probably shouldn't. One of our grammarians is welcome to point out the error of my ways to me, I'd be interested to learn.)
    However, if one direct quotation is contained within another then it is usually wrapped in '.

    The Chairman addressed the meeting and said: "I spoke to our supplier about the price. She said 'You've signed the contract and must abide by what you agreed.' So there the matter rests. What do you all think I should do next?"
  3. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Strictly speaking, the single quotation mark should be used only for a quotation within a quotation (as maxiogee suggests):
    John said, "Shakespeare wrote that 'the quality of mercy is not strain'd,' but what did he mean by that?"

    On the internet, many people use the single quotation mark instead of the correct double quotation mark because the single quotation mark is faster and easier to use (no need to use the shift key). In formal writing, however, you should probably not do this.

    By the way, you can make all of this even more complicated, by having a quotation within a quotation within a quotation. In this case, you alternate the single and double quotation mark. To borrow maxiogee's example, such a sentence would look like this:

    On the wordreference.com site, Maxiogee wrote, "The Chairman addressed the meeting and said: 'I spoke to our supplier about the price. She said "You've signed the contract and must abide by what you agreed." So there the matter rests. What do you all think I should do next?'"
  4. bartonig Senior Member

    UK English
    In British English the preference is for the single quotation mark when marking out a quote. For example:

    'The train leaves in two minutes,' he said.
    She said, 'Thank you.'

    Obviously, the use of single or double quotation marks is a choice of the publisher or printer. However, just look at a few novels in a bookshop to confirm my assertion. American publishers tend to favour the double quotation mark. One further point concerns the punctuation before or after the quoted passage. In British English the comma is the norm rather than the colon. Perhaps in America they use the colon (as they do after salutations on letters).

    Either way, when you need to use quotation marks within quotes you use the one you did not use for the quote.
  5. cameo

    cameo Member

    Chinese, Taiwan
    Sorry to butt in, but in British English, strictly speaking, when used to indicate or call attention to ironic or apologetic words, or to hilight something, do you use single or double quotation marks? In American English you should probably use double quotation marks, right?
  6. bartonig Senior Member

    UK English
    If the text is American in origin (that is, printed in the USA or elsewhere but for distribution in the USA) it would most likely use double quotation marks. If the text is British it would likely use single quotation marks. For example, I have just picked up Epidemiology, An Introduction by K J Rothman. It was printed in the USA and uses doubles. I have also looked in Speaking by M Bygate (a UK-based academic) which uses singles. It was printed in China. Both books were published by Oxford University Press.
  7. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    Personally I've never made a distinction between the quotes I use for highlighting and those I use for quoting. I've never noticed such a distinction in published texts.

    I agree with bartonig about the British vs American preferences and typically use single quotes first, and doubles for quotes within quotes. I often use double quotes on WR, though, since the confusion with apostrophes can be annoying.
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You will find a very tolerant discussion of this subject HERE.
    It is, as I recall, helpful and non-prescriptive.

    HERE is a prescriptive style-guide from The Economist. It has to be prescriptive because there needs to be consistency within one publication.

    There are also some very useful threads here about quotation marks and the placing of punctuation inside and outside the quotation marks.

    As you may see, it is possible to warm up a dark night with the heat generated in discussion between disagreeing prescriptive punctuators. Add to that the irate comments from non-prescriptivists and you get the equivalent of a small thermo-nookyular device somewhere about the mid-Atlantic.

    questions and quotes?

    commas, full stops, and quotation marks

    About punctuation....

    punctuation (urgent)

  9. moonglow

    moonglow Banned

    English – America
    Aside from italics, can movie titles, show titles, book titles, chapter titles, CD titles, album titles, DVD titles, etc. be placed in single markers?

    •I liked the movie 'Flight'.
    •'The Andy Griffith Show' was one of my favorites.
    •I loved 'Of Mice and Men'.
    •The album 'Live at Budokan' by Cheap Trick was great!
    •Did you read the chapter 'How to achieve biological longevity'?
    •I rented the DVD 'Silver Linings Playbook'.

  10. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    I think this is a BrE-AmE thing. Single quotation marks vs double quotation marks.
    I would write, for instance:

    I rented the DVD "Silver Linings Playbook".
  11. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    <<moonglow's post appended here. Please also review the links in post # 8 above for this and other punctuation questions>>
  12. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    That is not correct in either AE or BE.

    In BE, one should use single quotation marks, as in the example in post 9.
    In AE, the period should be inside the double quotation marks: I rented the DVD "Silver Linings Playbook." (This practice developed from considerations of appearance, not logic. It may not be logical, but it is well established.)
  13. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    I agree that your version looks better, but the period is not a part of the name "Silver Linings Playbook." :confused:
    ...oh, I`m sorry, I overlooked your answer to this :D:eek::
    Edit: I almost forgot to type - of course, I will follow your advice, Egmont. Thank you. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  14. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    I have just finished reading the link that Panj gave above. The quote is over the 4 lines, but for clarity, I hope it will be allowed to stand.

    For my part, quotation marks enclose that which exists to be quoted and nothing more
    I suggest at worst it is a matter of style which one you choose.
  15. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Unfortunately, it is not simply a matter of style. People in some parts of the world can choose to use BE or AE, but they are not at liberty to pick and choose bits of one and bits of the other according to their personal preferences.

    If one writes in BE and wishes to write correctly, one must follow BE practice. That includes the logical practice of putting the quotation marks inside the period (full stop) if the quotation is not a full sentence. That also includes putting a "u" in "colour" and a host of other things that one could argue are not logical.

    If one writes in AE and wishes to write correctly, one should follow AE practice. That includes the illogical practice of putting the quotation marks outside the period even if the quotation is not a full sentence. That also includes removing the "u" from "colour," which one can argue is more logical than leaving it in, but it also includes too many illogical spellings of other words to count.

    The fact is that we're stuck with a lot of things for historical reasons. We are not designing a logical language today. We spell "knife" with a "k," "chalk" with aqn "l," whether that makes sense or not. Much of the English language is not logical, but we are not at liberty to change it or dismiss it as "a matter of style."
  16. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    I read somewhere, somewhen, that the practice of putting the punctuation inside the quotation marks (quote marks/inverted commas) came from printers, who did it this way to protect the thinner pieces of type that carried the punctuation.

    And Egmont, I have no problems whatsoever with combining BE and AE in the same sentence. :)
  17. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    I hope you are not suggesting that just because I am British, I must obey every tittle of BE grammar particularly when there is an open choice. :D Would it were so and everyone obeyed the grammar of Chaucer.

    To have a choice in such minor matters is my right. Grammarians cannot dictate or impose; they merely record the passing of styles. The punctuation inside the inverted commas for the sentence rather than for what was said can be very deceptive. Imagine the following to be in Hansard:

    A: “My opponent has twice now said “all left-handed people should be shot.”
    B: “What I said, on both occasions, was ‘The idea that all left-handed people should be shot is completely ridiculous and I will die on the barricades defending left handed people.’ and I stick to that.”

    as opposed to "all left-handed people should be shot”. which is accurate.

    Nobody is designing anything: language is a living thing; it evolves, as do we all. The placing of the punctuation within or without the quotation marks is someone's arbitrary preference; the spellings you give are historical and thus not a preference, more a consensus.
  18. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    This is evolving from a discussion of how one should use quotation marks to a discussion of the role of standards in using a language. I doubt anyone will convince anyone else. It's off-topic for this thread. It may be off-topic for this forum. Despite being able to rebut the points that have been raised recently, I hereby retire from the fray - unless I can add something in the future to its original topic.
  19. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Now, you're talking about the use of quotes not for quoting what someone said (or what someone said that someone else said), but for titles. In general, in US English, the answer is no; the basic quotes in AmE are double, single quotes being used only for quotations within quotations.

    As to whether quotes are used at all, that depends on style rules.

    The basic rule for newspapers, set by the Associated Press and followed by many (but not all) papers, calls for quotation marks for all of the above plus books, poems, songs, paintings—just about any work; the sole exception: reference works such as dictionaries.

    Basic guidelines for books are similarly "set" by a reference (The Chicago Manual) that's followed by many but not all in that business; most major book publishers have their own style manuals. The general guideline here: titles of most stand-alone works are set in italics and do not have quotes. That would include all of the items in your list except chapter titles, which would be in quotes and not italicized (as would the titles of articles).
  20. Kotuku33 Senior Member

    New Zealand
    French & English, Alberta, Canada
    I agree with Parla. Italicize longer, stand-alone works such as films, names of TV shows (but specific episodes in quotes), book titles (but a poem or a chapter in quotes), albums (but song titles in quotes).
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  21. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    American typographic usage is also to set off a quote with commas. One of the main differences between AE and BE in regard to quotes, however, is that when a quote ends a sentence Americans set the period (full stop) inside the ending quote mark; the British sets it outside the mark.

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