Quotation marks are used primarily to enclose or set off exact words. They are used to indicate a person's exact written or spoken words, and in certain situations they are also used to set off words, phrases, or specific types of titles. When using quotation marks, certain rules apply regarding punctuation and capitalization.
1. Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations.
"Don't forget to visit me in London," Martha said.
Martha said that I should visit her when I am in London.
2. Use quotation marks to indicate words used ironically, with reservations, or in some unusual way.
Declaring it was a symbol of "progress," they cut down all the trees.
3. Use quotation marks to set off words used as words.
The words "accept" and "except" are frequently confused.
4. Use quotation marks around the titles of newspaper and magazine articles, poems, essays, short stories, songs, episodes of television and radio programs, and chapters or subdivisions of books.
After I read "The Internet's Role in Education" in one of my educational journals, I had a much better understanding of the issues.
The class analyzed Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" and eventually agreed that there could be several interpretations.
5. When using quotation marks, certain rules apply regarding capitalization and punctuation.
The teacher remarked, "The semester is already half over."
Tyler asked if I would be "heading out of town on a Harley."
"When it comes to cake," Jessica said, "chocolate cake takes the cake."
"When it comes to cake, chocolate cake takes the cake," Jessica said. "In fact, I'd love to have some right now."
"I don't know what happened," he said quickly.
"What happened?" she asked.
"We saw just what happened!" they shouted.
He said, "I enjoy working on automobile engines."
Although Lawrence had asked for "the best seat in the house," he didn't seem to notice they were seated right next to the kitchen.
Dave had replied, "I regret I am unable to attend the wedding"; he was there, however, for the entire ceremony.
The clerk politely asked, "Would you like paper or plastic?"
What do you mean by "over the hill"?
Use a comma if the quotation is introduced or followed by an expression such as he said or she remarked.
She replied, "Take it quickly before I change my mind."
Use a colon if a quotation is introduced by a full independent clause.
He feels the advice of Alexander Pope is especially relevant: "To err is human, to forgive divine."
When a quotation is blended into the writer's introductory sentence, no punctuation is needed to separate the introduction from the quoted phrase.
Marisa comes here every day at noon and asks for "a dog and a beer."
The professor explained, "Although Thoreau wrote that most men ‘lead lives of quiet desperation,' much of his writing expressed the joy in life."
6. Use indentation rather than quotation marks to set off long quotations of prose or poetry.
Thoreau exhibits this strength of will in "Civil Disobedience":
I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion.
Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude?
They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They
force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being
forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life
were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me,
"Your money or your life," why should I be in haste to give it my money?
William Blake's "The Tyger" begins with the lines:
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?