Quotation Marks

Quotation marks (“ ”) set off a group of words from the rest of the text. Use quotation marks to indicate direct quotations of another person’s words or to indicate a title of an article or essay. Quotation marks always appear in pairs.

Direct Quotations

A direct quotation is an exact account of what someone said or wrote. To include a direct quotation in your writing, enclose the words in quotation marks. An indirect quotation is a restatement of what someone said or wrote, also known as paraphrasis. Indirectly quoting, or paraphrasing, does not use the person’s exact words. Do not use quotation marks for paraphrasing (but make sure to cite the source in MLA format just as you would a quotation).

Direct quotation: Carly said, I’m not ever going back there again.

Indirect quotation/paraphrasis: Carly said that she would never return.

Use commas between identifying words and quotes. Quotation marks must be placed after commas and periods. Place quotation marks after question marks and exclamation points only if the question or exclamation is part of the quoted text.

Question is part of quoted text: The new employee asked, “When is lunch?”

Question is not part of quoted text: Did you hear her say you were the next Picasso”?

Exclamation is part of quoted text: My supervisor beamed, “Thanks for all of your hard work!”

Exclamation is not part of quoted text: He said I single-handedly saved the company thousands of dollars”!

Quotations Within Quotations

Use apostrophes (‘ ’) to show a quotation within in a quotation.

Theresa said, I wanted to take my dog to the festival, but the man at the gate said, No dogs allowed.’”

When you say, I can’t help it, what exactly does that mean?

The instructions say, Tighten the screws one at a time.’”


Use quotation marks around titles of short works that are published or produced, such as essays, songs, episodes, poems, short stories, and chapters in books. Titles of longer works, such as books, magazines, albums, newspapers, and novels, are italicized.

Annabelle Lee is one of my favorite poems.

The New York Times has been in publication since 1851.

Exercise 1

Correct the following by adding quotation marks where necessary. If the sentence does not need any quotation marks, write correct.

  1. Yasmin said, I don’t feel like cooking. Let’s go out to eat.


  2. Where should we go? said Russell.


  3. Yasmin said it didn’t matter to her.


  4. I know, said Russell, let’s go to the Two Roads Juice Bar.


  5. Perfect! said Yasmin.


  6. Did you know that the name of the Juice Bar is a reference to a poem? asked Russell.


  7. I didn’t! exclaimed Yasmin. Which poem?


  8. It is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, Russell explained.


  9. Oh! said Yasmin, Is that the one that starts with the line, Two roads diverged in a yellow wood?


  10. That’s the one, said Russell.



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