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Quotation marks, or inverted commas, are punctuation marks used in writing to indicate the exact words or phrases that someone else has said or written. They have a significant role in conveying information accurately and maintaining clarity. In this article, we will explore the various uses and rules associated with quotation marks.

Direct Quotations

One of the primary uses of quotation marks is to enclose direct quotations. When we want to reproduce someone's exact words, we use quotation marks to indicate this. For example, if a journalist interviews a famous personality and wants to include their statements in an article, they would use quotation marks to delineate the interviewee's exact words.

It is essential to remember that when using quotation marks, the punctuation should be placed inside the closing quotation mark. For example:

"I believe that education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world," said Nelson Mandela.

Furthermore, if a direct quotation is broken into two parts by reported speech tags (such as "he said" or "she exclaimed"), the second part of the quotation begins with a lowercase letter, unless it starts with a proper noun or a commonly known abbreviation. For instance:

"It's a dream come true," she said. "I never thought I would be selected for the team."

Quotations within Quotations

Sometimes, we encounter a situation where we need to include a quotation within a quotation. In such cases, we use a combination of double and single quotation marks. The outermost quotation marks are double, while the innermost ones are single. For example:

"My favorite poem is 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost," she replied.

It's important to note that different style guides may have variations in rules regarding the use of single and double quotation marks. Therefore, it is advisable to adhere to the specific guidelines outlined by the style guide you are using.

Emphasizing Words or Phrases

Quotation marks can also be used to emphasize specific words or phrases in a sentence. By using quotation marks, we draw attention to those words or phrases, indicating that they hold some significance. However, it's important not to overuse this technique, as it can lead to confusion or a lack of clarity in writing.

For example, in the sentence "The so-called 'healthy' snack was loaded with sugar," the quotation marks around the word "healthy" suggest that the snack may not be as nutritious as it claims to be.

Titles of Short Works

Quotation marks are commonly used to enclose the titles of short works, such as articles, essays, poems, short stories, and songs. For example:

I just read an interesting article titled "The Impact of Climate Change on Wildlife."

However, it's important to note that titles of longer works, like books, films, and television shows, are typically italicized or underlined instead of being enclosed in quotation marks.


In conclusion, quotation marks play a crucial role in accurately conveying direct quotations, emphasizing words or phrases, and enclosing the titles of short works. By understanding and following the rules associated with quotation marks, we can ensure clarity in our writing and effectively communicate the thoughts and ideas of others.


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