How to use quotation marks ?

There is only one use of quotation marks (or quotes, speech marks, or inverted commas, as they are often called):

  • To enclose a direct quotation [Hamlet’s most famous speech begins: “To be or not to be”.]

Note 1: Strictly speaking, the only punctuation marks that should go inside the quotation marks are those that are part of the quotation itself. [He screamed out “Help me!” and so I went to his aid.]
Note 2: International practice varies on whether quotation marks should be double or single (I use double) but, when one has a quotation within a quotation, one uses the other type of quotation marks (in my case, single) [He told me: “Your use of the phrase ‘in this day and age’ is hackneyed”.]
Note 3: There is a version of quotation marks known informally as scare quotes and these are used when the writer wishes to signify that the quoted word or words are odd or inappropriate or the writer wishes to express irony or even sarcasm. [Daniel was assured that he would be ‘safe’ in the lion’s den.]
Note 4: One final use of quotation marks is when one is talking about a word or phrase when one normally uses single quotation marks. [Someone I know overuses the word ‘actually’.]
Other use of quotation mark are as follows:

  1. Put periods and commas inside quotes.
  2. Put colons and semicolons outside quotes.
  3. Vary placement of exclamation and question marks according to meaning.

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