1. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    When do we use " and when do we use '?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by WriterDude, Apr 26, 2012.

    Maybe it's because English is not my native language, but I'm a bit confused when to use " and when to use '. I know dialogue should use ", so when do we use ' instead? I don't mean ' like I just did with the word don't, but marking words and stuff like that, in lack of a better word. For instance, I have the following sentence in my current boook:

    He said she would be released 'soon enough'.

    This isn't dialogue, but 'soon enough' are repeating dialogue. Should there be ' or " in this case? And what are the rules for either outside dialogue?
     
  2. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    Well, actually, you'd use both in dialogue. The single (') is used when there is an addition quote within quotes.
    Ex: "Tony," he said. "Can you believe what Mark told me this morning? 'Better shape up,' he told me." Because the character speaking is quoting someone else, double quotes would be confusing, because you wouldn't know when he stopped talking. Taken into context using all double quotes, it would sound different.
    "Tony," he said. "Can you believe what Mark told me this morning? "Better shape up" he told me." So, now it's confusing, because it sounds like the talker stops talking, there is a random Better shape up between the quotes, and then the talker says "He told me." Single quotes are used within double quotes when a speaking character quotes someone else.

    Other than that, you can use double quotes for things that are iffy. Such as ex: John said Jill looked "beautiful." In this example, the narrator says that John is using sarcasm, because he clearly thinks Jill is not beautiful.
     
  3. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, I see. Thanks, that helps a lot. :)
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As naturemage says, you alternate between single and double quotes for quotes within quotes (within quotes...). Another thing that might confuse you is that although US English is strict about which to use first, British English isn't -- you just have to be consistent and check whether your publisher has a house style. So if you look at books from the UK you might think they're breaking the rule. They're not; we don't have that rule.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "" are speech marks, '' for quotes within speech, or quotes outside of speech.

    However I think that's US English. I think in UK English we have it reversed - eg. '' for speech and "" for quotes.

    I'm British but I've always used "" for speech so.... o_O and no one, not even my teachers at school, ever corrected me.

    And then you have the comma outside or inside the quote.

    I'm increasingly beginning to realise just how confusing English is to foreigners.
     
  6. simplyrachel
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    simplyrachel Member

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    you use " to show dictation, like people talking to each other, you use ' when quoting something or someone.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, the single and double usage rule is reversed for the us and uk... but, as noted above, uk publishers go both ways, while in the us, the rule is a rigid one...
     
  8. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Really? That's so confusing!
     

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