Quotation Marks - Explore Their Functions and How to Use Them in a Sentence with Examples

Are you a person who often uses air quotes to quote something when you speak? Well, you would probably know how to use quotation marks in writing as well. Even if you do not know much about the use of quotation marks, there is nothing to worry about. In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about quotation marks, its types, functions and usage. You can also go through the number of examples given for an in-depth understanding of the same.

Table of Contents

What are Quotation Marks? – Meaning and Definition

Quotation marks, also called speech marks, are one of the punctuation marks in English which can be used to quote the exact words of the speaker in a sentence and also to indicate names, titles and so on. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines ‘quotation marks’ as “a pair of marks (‘  ’) or ( “ ” ) placed around a word, sentence, etc. to show that it is what somebody said or wrote, that it is a title or that you are using it in an unusual way.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, quotation marks are defined as “the symbols “ ” or ‘ ’ that are put around a word or phrase to show that someone else has written or said it”.

The Collins Dictionary gives a much clearer definition of the usage of quotation marks in a sentence. According to them, “either of the punctuation marks used to begin or end a quotation, respectively “ and ” or ‘ and ’ in English printing and writing. When double marks are used, single marks indicate a quotation within a quotation, and vice versa.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary also gives a hint of the function of quotation marks in the following words, “one of a pair of punctuation marks ” ” or ‘ ‘ used chiefly to indicate the beginning and the end of a quotation in which the exact phraseology of another or of a text is directly cited.”

Types of Quotation Marks with Examples

In the English language, there are two types of quotation marks namely,

  • Single quotation marks and
  • Double quotation marks

They vary in their usage and perform different functions in a sentence. Take a look at how these two types of quotation marks are used in sentences.

Single Quotation Marks

Single quotation marks, also called ‘inverted commas’, are mainly used to quote names, book titles, movie titles, characters and specific terms that are given more importance than usual.

For example:

  • We finally found ‘the coat’.
  • In the above example, ‘the coat’ is placed within single quotation marks as it specifically refers to a particular coat that they should have been looking for a long time.

  • Our English teacher asked us to read ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ before Friday.
  • My brother and his friend, Philip went to watch ‘Don’ at the new theatre.
  • The acronym, ‘WFH’, meaning ‘Work from Home’, has been used very frequently by youngsters and adults alike.

In the above examples, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, ‘Don’ and ‘WFH’ are placed within single quotation marks as they are the title of a play, the name of a movie and a particular acronym,

Double Quotation Marks

Double quotation marks are chiefly used to quote something someone said in their exact words, as in direct speech. They can also be used to cite something that is written or said by another person or author.

For example:

  • “I had a dream”, said Martin Luther King. Likewise, I do too.
  • Nick said, “I enjoy watching musicals.”
  • In the above sentences, you will see that “I had a dream” is a particular citation and so placed within double quotation marks. The second sentence quotes the exact words of Nick; therefore, they are placed within double quotation marks.

Using Quotation Marks in Sentences – Points to Remember

The first and most fundamental rule to be followed when using quotation marks is that you have to close the quotation marks. You can never leave quotation marks open as they are always used in pairs. Also, since quotation marks are meant to quote specific terms, words, sentences and paragraphs, you have to mark the end of whatever is quoted.

There is yet another point that you have to bear in mind. Never use quotation marks unnecessarily. Any punctuation mark, for that matter, has to be used only where it has to be used; otherwise, it would make the sentence look flawed and also alter the meaning of the sentence.

Check Your Understanding of the Usage of Quotation Marks in Sentences

Use appropriate quotation marks wherever necessary in the following sentences.

1. Naomi said, I feel very excited as it is the first day of work.

2. Have you read The Pilgrim’s Progress?

3. Shakespeare once said, All the world’s a stage and we are all actors.

4. The Ice Age: Collision Course is the last one of the Ice Age movie sequels.

5. Have you ever heard of FOMO?

6. Terry said, I have been promoted to be head of sales for the entire northern division.

7. The crowd cheered, An absolute hero!

8. Nothing’s gonna change my love for you is my mom’s favourite song.

9. Who is the class leader? asked the Principal.

10. A Sensible Heart is a psychoanalytic novel.

Now, find out if you used the right quotation marks in the right places from the answers given below,

1. Naomi said, I feel very excited as it is the first day of work.

2. Have you read The Pilgrim’s Progress?

3. Shakespeare once said, All the world’s a stage and we are all actors.

4. The Ice Age: Collision Course is the last one of the Ice Age movie sequels.

5. Have you ever heard of FOMO?

6. Terry said, I have been promoted to be head of sales for the entire northern division.

7. The crowd cheered, An absolute hero!

8. Nothing’s gonna change my love for you is my mom’s favourite song.

9. Who is the class leader?”, asked the Principal.

10. A Sensible Heart is a psychoanalytic novel.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Usage of Quotation Marks

What are quotation marks?

Quotation marks, also called speech marks, are one of the punctuation marks in English which can be used to quote the exact words of the speaker in a sentence and also to indicate names, titles and so on.

What is the definition of quotation marks?

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines ‘quotation marks’ as “a pair of marks (‘  ’) or ( “ ” ) placed around a word, sentence, etc. to show that it is what somebody said or wrote, that it is a title or that you are using it in an unusual way.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, quotation marks are defined as “the symbols “ ” or ‘ ’ that are put around a word or phrase to show that someone else has written or said it”.

What are the two types of quotation marks?

There are two types of quotation marks in the English language namely,

  • Single quotation marks
  • Double quotation marks

Give some examples of sentences using quotation marks.

Here are a few examples of sentences to show you how quotation marks can be used.

  • We finally found ‘the coat’.
  • “I had a dream”, said Martin Luther King. Likewise, I do too.
  • Our English teacher asked us to read ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ before Friday.
  • My brother and his friend, Philip went to watch ‘Don’ at the new theatre.
  • The acronym, ‘WFH’, meaning ‘Work from Home’, has been used very frequently by youngsters and adults alike.

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