Quotation Marks: What they Are, How to Use them
Let’s look at some examples of how to properly punctuate these different usages.
Using periods and commas with quotation marks
In American usage, place periods and commas inside of quotation marks. To quote someone’s exact words, begin the quote with open quotation marks, and end the quote with a period or comma and closing quotation marks.
- The instructor said, “Your assignment was due on Friday.”
- “I am finally home,” Sally announced as she plopped down on the couch.
It is common to begin quotes with a comma before the opening quotation mark. But, this is not required in all writing styles. As is true with most writing rules, the most important thing is to keep your writing consistent.
For instance, if you’re splitting a quote into two separate parts, you should end the first section with a comma placed inside of the quotes, then begin the second section with another comma inside the quotes:
For example: “The problem is,” Tony said, “that storm is coming in too quickly.”
Note: punctuating British vs. American English
Americans place periods and commas inside the quotation marks, but those in the UK do the opposite. In British English, all punctuation marks should be placed outside of the quotation marks unless the punctuation is a part of the material being quoted.
British English also uses single quotation marks for standard quotes and double quotation marks for quotes within a quote.
However, Americans do the opposite. The double quotation marks are used for standard quotes, while single quotations are used when quoting something within another quote.
- American English: “I remember his favorite saying, ‘Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.’”
- British English: ‘I remember his favorite saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”’