Navigating the use of quotation marks

English is a damn difficult language to learn. For those of us who were brought up speaking this language, we recognize its intricacies, but they don’t really baffle us all that much because we were taught the language from such a young age. For folks who are not fluent in English and were brought up speaking an alternate language, it is probable that the prospect of even beginning to attempt to learn the ridiculous complexities of this language is arguably daunting at a more developed age.

I have tremendous respect for people who learn the English language in their later years. I majored in this shit in university and I still don’t understand it all.

One element of the English language that tends to baffle a lot of us is quotation marks and their proper uses. Quotation marks are used to signify that you are citing, or referencing, information or material that is not your own; it is someone else’s words and learnings. Hence why they’re rather important – without them, there would be copyright infringement lawsuits popping up left, right and centre.

A quotation mark appears as follows: “. The double quotation mark is standard for citing someone else’s work. But there’s also the single quotation mark: ‘. The single quotation mark is used when you’re referencing a quote inside of a quote.

For example, if I am referencing a quote from a newspaper article in a piece of my own writing, I would need to use both double and single quotations. The double quotations would enclose the entire quote because it is coming from a different source (the newspaper article), and the single quotes would appear around the direct quote taken from the article. So, if the quote I pulled from the article is “The woman said she was distraught after the incident,” I would write it, in my own work, as follows: “‘The woman said she was distraught after the incident'” because I am citing a quote within a different quote.

Super straightforward, I know.

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