General Question

ezraglenn's avatar

Outside of dialogue, when do you use single quotation marks and when do you use double?

Asked by ezraglenn (3497points) August 19th, 2008

for example, in translation, you might say:
petit, or ‘little’...
should little, here, be “little” or ‘little’?

this has always confused me.

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17 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Brits use single quotation marks for dialogue; I know that that doesn’t answer the question, but it is interesting. If you are quoting within a dialogue, you use the other one

She said, “I am really tired of people using ‘je ne sais quoi’ all the time.” – American

She said, ‘I am really tired of people who use “je ne sais quoi” all the time.’ – UK

Lightlyseared's avatar

Both single and double are technically correct for both quotes and dialogue however double quotation marks are usually preferred.

@gailcalled I’m a Brit and I’ve always used double quotation marks. Also, and I realise this is taking pernickety to a whole new level I would have put the full stop out side the final quotation mark.

gailcalled's avatar

I was taught to put the ” outside the full stop in those examples. Do you have time to check? I have frittered away enough of the day here.

gailcalled's avatar

@Lightly; Here’s one set of guidelines from an American University writing lab.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_quote.html

Lightlyseared's avatar

Full stop inside is American Style, full stop outside is British style.

The American rule follows an older British standard. Before the advent of mechanical type, the order of quotation marks with periods and commas was not given much consideration. However with the printing press the easily damaged smallest pieces of type for the comma and period were protected behind the more robust quotation marks.

gailcalled's avatar

Aha. Or, I said ” She said, ‘aha.’ ”

Check out the use of parenthesis.).). It is hard to know where to stop.

augustlan's avatar

I stop inside the quotation marks, but only because that’s the way I was taught. I always think it doesn’t look right, and should be outside. For parenthesis, I stop outside. No one ever taught me the rules on that one, so I just do it the way I think looks right.

Judi's avatar

You guys confues me! It’s amazing I birthed an English teacher because all these rules drive me crazy. As much as I tried to get her to color OUTSIDE the lines, she always wanted to color in the lines too :-)

charliecompany34's avatar

use double quotes for actual spoken words and single quotes “inside” that quotation when necessary.

Darryl said, “i am an avid reader; probably one of my favorites is ‘the grapes of wrath,’ but my brother disagrees.”

redsgirl4eva's avatar

I don’t know and never thought about now you got me thinking and wondering to, lol.

gailcalled's avatar

@Charlie; You are right, but using upper case letters in the appropriate places would keep the copy editor from sharpening his red pencil, particularly after that elegant semi-colon.

And that is the American way;

Daryl said, “I am an avid reader; probably one of my favorite books is ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ but my brother disagrees.

I have been doing some research, which was a big mistake. All those funny small black marks now look like floaters.

ezraglenn's avatar

I should have made myself clearer, apparently. This has nothing to do with dialogue. I know the rules of quotation within quotation.

augustlan's avatar

When I’m in that situation, I use the double mark. As in: petit, or “little.” BTW, see how weird that looks, with the period inside the quotation mark? It’s all offcenter and everything. I do it, but I don’t like it!

gailcalled's avatar

@Ezra: I bet that the Bard English department has a handout of usage, grammar, punctuation, etc. I still refer to the one I got from my college Eng. department a long time ago.

jeanmay's avatar

@Ezra: I agree with augustlan; in that situation I use double quote marks. I know this because in speaking I would wiggle two fingers of each hand in the air to signify to the listener that I was inserting double quotes! I cannot say if this is correct though.

@Charlie and Gail: Different academic institutions have different rules, I know, but I would always italicize titles;

Daryl said, ‘I am an avid reader; probably one of my favourite books is The Grapes of Wrath, but my brother disagrees’.

zina's avatar

another use for the single ’ is the so-called ‘ironic quotation’—to put emphasis on a certain word or phrase (for instance to point out its inaccuracy) within an expression/idea that’s not your own, or just for a non-exact ‘quote’ or thought (like a cartoon bubble)—- not to be overused (!), but sometimes useful.

for example:
these ‘healthy’ meals sell for $1.99
apparently this ‘isn’t what she signed up for’
the new ‘security’ measures…. (if you’re pointing out that the aim is not security)

also, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark

and, as you see above, single ’ can be used to surround an atypical word-use, or an unofficial title as well!

danikoo's avatar

between single quote and double quote

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