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  1. erebh

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    quotes witin a quote

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by erebh, Apr 11, 2013.

    quotes witin a quote - how to punctuate

    example 1) "So" said George, "I was reading this book and in it the author says 'to read is to breathe'. How do you feel about that?"
    example 2) 'There's lots of songs about the moon. "Fly Me To The Moon", "Moon River", "Paper Moon"' said George, 'My favourite though is "Blue Moon"'.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Mithrandir

    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    Depends on whether we're in the US or the UK.
     
  3. iolair

    iolair Active Member

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    Here (in the UK), I would use:

    "So," said George, "I was reading this book and in it the author says 'to read is to breathe'. How do you feel about that?"

    (As your first example, but note the comma immediately after 'So'.)
     
  4. Mithrandir

    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    It used to be the opposite in england. That's the same as US I think.
     
  5. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    My thoughts are, re: example 2, you don't need to put George's words in quotes unless someone else is relating to yet a third party what George said.
    Michael regaled us with tales of George's dissertation. "There's lots of songs about the moon. 'Fly Me To The Moon', 'Moon River', 'Paper Moon'", said George, "My favourite though is 'Blue Moon'."

    By "American Rules", the double quote always takes precedence. That is, you open (begin) with double quotes. The secondary quote, in this case, the names of the songs, would be single. If you should have a case where there is a quote within a quote within a quote, you would revert to the double quote once more. So you would see something like, "quote, 'quotequote, "quotequotequote"'".

    And, in an aside here, an equally confusing and often mishandled punctuation is the parentheses within parentheses which follows basically the same "code of conduct" though somewhat in reverse. you open with single parens. A parenthetical comment within another parenthetical comment receives double parens. So the end result is something like this.
    (parenthesis ((parenparentheses)) parenthesis) Or, for even more confusion ... (parenthesis ((parenparentheses))).


    Are we totally confused yet? :)
     
  6. erebh

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Almost... so is this the English English or American English? Or are we on universal terrain?

    Both examples by the way, are verbatim from American novels...
     
  7. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    And that would be "American Rules", though I'm not the least surprised to see American writers stumble over things such as where to place their quotation marks. "Everything seems to be changing and people are struggling to figure out which "rule" is which!
     
  8. TLK

    TLK Active Member

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    I think, what you're more likely to see in a published book is:
    But I think that's only because using a single dash (') as speech marks and a double dash (") as a double quote thing, is only done because speech marks are far more common in books and therefore using a single dash would save on ink.
     
  9. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    See He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue
     
  10. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a quote within a quote in the US must be in singles [' ']...

    yes, it used to be the opposite in the UK, but nowadays, the double for outside and single for inside is ok with most publishers there, too...
     

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