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      • Slovak
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    Quotation marks

    Dear Teacher,
    I would like to ask someting about quotation marks.
    Is it true that they are different in British and American English? If yes, how they are used.
    Thank you very much for your answer

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 163

    Re: Quotation marks

    The way I learned, which I think is close to 'British' English, is that single quotes ('..') are used to quote something that has been paraphrased (is not verbatim), is not complete, or is just being put in quotes for emphasis. Double quotes are used " quote word for word a sentence, passage, or entire treatise in the middle of another body of written work."

    Does that sound about right? What is the 'American' way?

    • Join Date: Nov 2006
    • Posts: 17

    Re: Quotation marks

    JSmiley's interpretation is news to me, and I speak British English. Though the question is vague as to what differences might there be. I was taught that " and ' were quite interchangeable but that you must be consistent within the one article, book, letter etc. So if you start using " you keep using ". If you start using ' then you keep using'.

    I was also taught that if you quotation contains a quotation then you switch forms. For example: She said that, "John said, 'I love you.' before they kissed." Here there is a quote within a quote so the inner quote uses different marks form the outer quote.

    I was reading the book, "Eats, shoots and leaves." a few days ago. In this book it describes a difference between American and British English with regards to the closing punctuation of the quotation. According to the book, American English requires punctuation, such as a coma or full stop, before the closing quotes; but British English is looser on this, allowing the punctuation to fall after the close of the quote.

    The difference in, "Eats, shoots and leaves." is also strange to me. I learned that you needed punctuation before opening the quotes and before closing, but never after. Which is not what the author describes a the British way.

  1. Ouisch's Avatar
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    Re: Quotation marks

    I'm reading an autobiography that was published in England, and I notice that whenever there is dialog, they use single quotation marks: 'You must have been the class clown.' 'No, I wasn't, but I did sit next to him.'

    In AmE, we use double quotation marks for dialog: "You must have been the class clown." (etc)

    We use single quotation marks (I believe they're called "inverted commas" in BE) when enclosing a quote within a quotation: "Dybbyck shmybbyck, I said 'more ham!'".

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    Re: Quotation marks

    There is no formal agreement on quotation marks. Either single or double are correct in Britain, their use being determined by the house style of publishers. Over the past 30 years, single quotes have been the more generally used form, but double are still used by some companies.

    Where single marks are used, secondary quotations are in double quotes.

    'He said "Go away" to me.'

    Where double marks are used, secondary quotations are in single quotes.

    "He said 'Go away' to me."

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    Re: Quotation marks

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglika View Post
    Over the past 30 years, single quotes have been the more generally used form, but double are still used by some companies.
    I think the keyboard has a lot to do with the trend towards the use of single quotes as it's a single keystroke.

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