How & When to Use Quotation Marks

Instructor: T.J. Hoogsteen

T.J. is currently a grade 5 teacher and Vice-Principal. He has a master's degree in Educational Administration and is working toward an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn how and when to use quotation marks. There are three main situations this lesson will cover: when writing exact words people have said, writing to highlight specific words, and for nicknames.

Great Quotations

As a child, I remember many people idolizing hockey legends Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. What wasn't to like though? They scored goals, made their teammates better, and won championships. Every young player wanted to be them, making their jersey numbers, 66 and 99 two of the most popular and recognizable. They accomplished just about everything possible in their sport. However, a lot of people may not remember them for their accomplishments, but may remember them as the way they learned about quotation marks, a set of marks used in specific writing situations. That's because their jersey numbers look just like quotation marks:

66 99

Although, with most word processing programs, quotation marks almost look like a pair of teeth:


Now that you know what they look like, it's time to learn when to use quotation marks and how to use them correctly. This lesson will cover three very common reasons for using quotation marks: when directly quoting the words of others, when emphasizing specific words, and when using nicknames.

Direct Quotes

The most common use of quotation marks is when directly quoting things that people have said. It's important to remember that quotation marks are only used when writing the exact words a person said. In such cases, the words the person said go inside the quotation marks, like this:

''That was an unbelievable goal!'' the announcer screamed.

Quotation marks do not need to be used when paraphrasing what a person said. For example:

After the goal was scored, the announcer yelled how unbelievable it was.

Quotation marks can also be used in the middle of a sentence, like this:

I was watching the game when the announcer yelled, ''That was an unbelievable goal!'' and everyone cheered.

Writing to Highlight Specific Words

There are two main reasons why a writer may want to place emphasis on a word or group of words and will use quotation marks to highlight this emphasis.

  • When writing about specific words someone else has used. For example,

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