Friday, July 6, 2012

Grammar Day: Single Quotation Marks

Grammar is a tricky subject. With all the rules and exceptions, how can a person keep track? I can't answer that, but I can help with little pieces here and there.

Today's Topic: Single Quotation Marks

Not to be confused with an apostrophe (which will have its own post in the future), this punctuation mark is used when quoting within a quote.

Where does the period go? If an entire sentence is being quoted, the period goes within the single quotation marks. There is no space between the single and double quotation marks at the end.
"She said, 'We enjoyed learning grammar.'"
When only a word or part of a sentence is within the single quotation marks, the period belongs outside. The period separates the single and double quotation marks at the end.
"He said he was 'confused' but that 'it was okay'."
This rule applies to any ending punctuation mark.

Are there exceptions to when these can be used? Yes. Single quotations can emphasize a word, or denote a title or subtitle. In cases like these, the ending punctuation lands after the single quotation mark.
She wasn't 'thrilled', it seemed, with the choices.
He had just finished reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
Keep in mind that many authors (and readers) prefer italics over single quotation marks, in these instances.

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