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Quotation Marks

There are only a few proper uses of quotation marks. They are:

  1. To enclose another person's exact words

    • This includes fragments of quoted material. Do not use them quotation marks with mark indirect quotations or paraphrases.

    • "We just received the mail," he grunted, "and the check didn't come."

    • "Mom, we had that yesterday!" they complained.

    • Their contract stated that "payment is due in receipt of the invoice."

  2. To set off the title of a book, play, etc.

    • He greatly enjoyed reading "The Da Vinci Code."

  3. To indicate a word that is being used in an unusual way,

    • The business formed was a "closed" or "privately held" corporation.

  4. To indicate jargon or words of great informality that have not been come into widespread use.

    • He usually spent his afternoons "goofing off."

A quotation mark is often used to enclose a letter, when it is referred to as a letter (e.g., the letter "A"), to enclose the representation of a sound, or to enclose foreign words or translations of foreign words. However, italicization often better serves these purposes.

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