An oddity of the English language is that although inverted commas means upside down commas, if you look closely there is only one (the first) that is in an inverted position.
Typically, the usage of quotation marks differs between the British English and American English rulebooks. And as quote marks appear in many places their usage can be somewhat confusing. I hope this helps you:
1. Direct quotes
Quote marks, speech marks or inverted commas are most commonly used to enclose a direct quote or a piece of dialogue.
Be mindful that direct quotations repeat the exact words used in a passage of text or by a speaker.
Paraphrasing someone else’s words is called an indirect quotation and should not be enclosed in quote marks.
Do not to use quote marks around the title of songs, books, magazines and articles.
It’s better to italicise them.
3. Full stops and commas
Put a comma or full stop inside the quote marks if they appear at the end of a quote.
4. Exclamation and questions marks
Put both question and exclamation marks inside the quote marks if they appear at the end of a quote.
Suitable to their ambiguous and misused nature, semicolons appear outside the quote marks if they appear at the end of a quote.
6. Single or double
For this, I’ll turn to the Oxford Dictionary ruling, who says:
“There’s no rule about which to use but you should stick to one or the other throughout a piece of writing. Single inverted commas are generally more common in British English while American English tends to prefer double ones.
If you find that you need to enclose quoted material within direct speech or another quotation, use the style you haven’t used already. So, if you’ve been using single inverted commas, put any further quoted material within double ones and vice versa.”
As with most forms of grammar and punctuation, often what matters most is maintaining a consistent way of applying them — so that your reader knows what you are doing.
Your say …
Do you have any other points to add that will help us out with this curly (pardon the pun) one? Drop a comment below.