English 101

Pauline Christiansen





Remember the following points when using quotation marks



A comma or a period goes inside the quotation marks, whether it is part of the question or not:


Martha said, “George, you’re a creep.”







Martha said, “George, you’re a creep.”.







Martha said, “George, you’re a creep”.





Question marks, exclamation marks, dashes, colons, and semi-colons, go outside the quotation marks when they are not part of the quoted material:




As a candidate, he promised the voters, “peace, efficiency, integrity”; as president, he gave the voters war, incompetence, and unprecedented dishonesty.



You may not alter in any form the material placed in quotation marks.


This means that an original statement which says “I am not a communist” cannot be altered to “he was not a communist” and put in quotation marks in a sentence like this:




He said that “he was never a communist



Nor may other personal pronouns be changed. The following sentence, for example, is unlikely :




Don told me he was going home.” To get his shootin” rifle.”



Probably Don said “get my shootin’ rifle,” and the author of the sentence altered the quotation by changing the pronoun. If he wanted to use quotation marks he might better have written his sentence this way:




He told me he was going home to get his “shootin’ rifle.”



Just as you may not alter the words of a quotation, you should not alter its emphasis. Sometimes you will want to emphasize one or two words of a quotation for your own purposes; in such cases underline them, but add a note indicating that the italics are yours, not your speaker’s:




The official attitude toward the whole scandal is best seen in a remark attributed to one unidentified staff member:  “We have found the committee’s findings annoying, but feel other matters more pressing (italics mine). “ The entire government is shaken to its roots, and he terms the matter “annoying!”



You  may also discover upon occasion that in order to clarify a quotation you must add words of your own; place them in brackets writing the quotation:




One official observed, “We have found the committee’s findings [about misuse of federal funds] startling, but we’re not sure just what to do about the matter.”



In quotations within quotations reduce the inside set of quotation marks to “single quotes” (typewritten as apostrophes).




The defendant testified, “I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Grennan, so I could not have suggested to him that ‘ the First National Bank would be easy picking’ as he has charged,”



When you quote poetry or a prose statement in which it is important to indicate the end of each line in the original, do so with a slash mark.




As Byron once wrote, “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,  / There is rapture on the lonely shore,  / There is society where none intrudes,  /  By the deep Sea, and music in its roar.”



Note that the capitalization of the original is retained.