General Question

DaphneT's avatar

Use of " vs. '. Is there a standard?

Asked by DaphneT (5661 points ) February 9th, 2012

When a word is quoted, does one use a single quote mark or does one use the double quote mark? Like I ‘meant’ vs. “meant”. Does the quote mark convey a depth of meaning?

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6 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

You use the same kind of quotation mark as you would for anything else. So British English will standardly use the single quote and American English will standardly use the double quote.

Just remember that when you use quotes within already quoted material, you switch which quote you are using. Some examples:

British English:

• Sally frequently confuses the words ‘literally’ and ‘figuratively’ when speaking.
• ‘Sally frequently confuses the words “literally” and “figuratively” when speaking’, James said.

American English

• Sally frequently confuses the words “literally” and “figuratively” when speaking.
• “Sally frequently confuses the words ‘literally’ and ‘figuratively’ when speaking,” James said.

auhsojsa's avatar

In journalism it works like this.

“Jack was running down the hill and he shouted, ‘Get over here!’ and that’s the last I heard from him,” said Bob.

So a quote within a quote kind of deal. That is just AP Style though.

anartist's avatar

You can’t use the same type of quote marks within another set of quote marks or it would be totally unclear where they began and ended. Generally the stronger [double] quote marks enclose the lesser [single] quotes. However, if there are no double quotes around a sentence, double quotes could be used around a word.

Jeruba's avatar

Some style guides call for the use of italics rather than quotes when you’re speaking of a word as a word (as opposed to quoting someone).

For example, if quoting someone, you might write:

•  He told me I’d done a terrible job. The exact word he used was “execrable.”

But if you were discussing the word itself, you might style it like this:

•  The word execrable is seldom used in everyday speech.

downtide's avatar

I didn’t realise there was a difference between British and American English here. I’ve always done it the American way. I don’t recall ever being taught in school which was the proper way.

wundayatta's avatar

I thought double quote was for speech and single quote was for thoughts, among other things.

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