Quotes Within Quotes: Single Quotation Marks

In the United States, single quotation marks are used for a quotation within a quotation:

“Mark Lester said, ‘I'll be fine,’ but then he collapsed,” cried Marrin Wright.

“I'm reading the story ‘Plaid Blazers and Other Mysteries,’” said Tara Hoggard.

Do you see that what Mark said (“I'll be fine”) and the name of the short story (“Plaid Blazers and Other Mysteries”) would normally be enclosed with double quotation marks? But since these phrases come inside material that's already in double marks, you show readers where the quotation (or title) begins by using a single quotation mark.

When not to use quotation marks with quotes: If you're using the writing guidelines from the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA), keep in mind that these groups have specific rules for block quotations (passages of a certain length). In spite of the fact that you're quoting, you don't use quotation marks.

You do, however, have a definite format for letting readers know that the material you're citing is verbatim from the original text. Consult the specific guidelines for each group to see how to format this material.

Try some interactive quizzes on quotation marks online. Also, have fun viewing misused quotation marks.

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