Monday, April 28, 2008

Grammar Monday: Don't Quote Me

Ah, quotation marks. Much like apostrophes, quotation marks are often misused and overused. There's even a blog devoted to inappropriate quotation mark usage, which I know some of you already read and enjoy. I'll leave it up to that blog to show you some excellent examples of how not to use quotation marks and just focus on appropriate uses.

Appropriate uses for quotation marks are as follows:

1. When quoting something someone said. "I wanted pear, not cherry," he remarked. "Were they out, or did you just forget?"

2. To indicate a title of a song, short story, article, essay, poem, work of art, or television series. I currently have "Hey There Delilah" on repeat even though the whiny tone sometimes gets to me. We watch "Grey's Anatomy" on Fridays after it becomes available online.

3. To refer to a particular word or phrase. Note how I used a comma following the word "apostrophes" in the second sentence. You may use the word "faux" in place of the word "false" if you prefer it. In these cases, it is not necessary to use quotation marks; italics will work as well.

4. To express sarcasm or doubt. They claimed to be "making cookies" all afternoon, but what they meant is that they were out shopping.

Most other uses of quotation marks are inappropriate. The same simple rule that applies to apostrophes applies to quotes, too. If you're not sure if you should use them, don't. Or at least ask someone for help.

Next week (because it turned out to be more time consuming than I thought it would be to explain it, and I'm out of time) I'll address how to use other punctuation in reference to where quotation marks are placed.


Shiz said...


My grammer is older than yours.

Shiz said...

OH MARY, my tub of BECEL Light margarine says "50% Less Calories!" on it.