Quotation Marks Part One

When working with quotation marks (‘‘ ’’), follow these rules. This is the first
of three pages about quotation marks.

  • Use quotation marks before and directly after a speaker’s exact words.
    The lifeguard told the swimmers, ‘‘Please move down between the
    green flags.’’

    Note: Use a comma to separate the speaker’s exact words from the sentence’s
    other parts.

    ‘‘Please move down between the green flags,’’ the lifeguard told the
    swimmers.

    Note: You do not have to use quotation marks around an indirect quotation.
    The lifeguard told the beachgoers to move between the green flags if
    they wanted to go into the water.

    Note: A direct quotation usually begins with a capital letter. If the quotation
    is not in its entirety, it often begins with a lowercase letter.

    Mikki believes that ‘‘honesty is its own reward.’’

  • If a direct quotation that is a full sentence is broken up into two parts
    because the speaker is identified, the second part begins with a
    lowercase letter.

    ‘‘Since the flowers are starting to bloom,’’ said Chris, ‘‘we should not
    step into the garden.’’

    Note: If the second part of a direct quotation is a complete sentence,
    start that part with a capital letter. Insert a period after the unquoted
    portion.

    ‘‘This is beautiful!’’ responded Mrs. Alsager. ‘‘Keep it going!’’
    Note: If a person’s exact words are more than a single sentence and are
    not divided, use only a single set of quotation marks.

    ‘‘Waves gently lapped the shore. Children played in the sand,’’ the
    man reported.