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  1. #1
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    sky3120 is offline Member
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    Default Usage of air quotes

    They said, "It is wrong".

    Can I also use air quotes for this sentence, especially "It is wrong"? Or air quotes are used only for sarcasm? Thank you so much as usual and have a good and safe day.

  2. #2
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Usage of air quotes

    The normal way of showing that you are repeating exactly what they said, is to say "quote-unquote" before or after.
    "When I asked them for an opinion they said, quote-unquote, 'It is wrong'", or "…they said, 'It is wrong', quote-unquote".
    If you made air quotes instead, I would be a little unsure what your attitude was, to the quoted phrase. I might assume that either you or they were saying "wrong" with a skeptical tone.

    not a teacher
    Last edited by JMurray; 04-Jan-2013 at 04:29.

  3. #3
    probus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Usage of air quotes

    In my experience air quotes are used only to convey irony, sarcasm or derision.

  4. #4
    Rover_KE is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: Usage of air quotes

    Quote Originally Posted by JMurray View Post
    The normal way of showing that you are repeating exactly what they said, is to say "quote-unquote" before or after.
    It's more usual to say 'quote' before and 'unquote' after.

    'He's so rude—he told me to [slight pause] quote "Bugger off" unquote.'

    Rover

  5. #5
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Usage of air quotes

    It's more usual to say 'quote' before and 'unquote' after.

    I most often hear it the way I've described it. Perhaps it's a regional thing, although COCA has 60 examples of the two words grouped together, mostly before the phrase in question, although nobody seems to bother with a hyphen.

    not a teacher

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Usage of air quotes

    Quote Originally Posted by JMurray View Post
    I most often hear it the way I've described it.
    So do I.

    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Usage of air quotes

    I've never heard/used "quote" before the words and then "unquote" after them. I would normally say "quote unquote" before the quoted phrase, but occasionally after the phrase.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Usage of air quotes

    Or They said, and I quote,....

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