The most effective way to learn about quotation marks is to start by learning some of the basic rules of this type of punctuation. Then, you can practice using quotation marks by applying the rules in a variety of instances.
Practice Using Quotation Marks
Quotation Marks Practice Exercise
This simple quotation marks exercise can be used as practice or a quotation marks quiz.
Quotation Marks Practice Quiz
Decide which word(s) or phrase(s) in each sentence needs quotation marks. Which word would the opening quotation marks come before, and what would the closing quotation marks come after?
- The great philosopher Aristotle once said, It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
- In her paper on moon phases, Dr. Celeste claims, Each moon phase looks like one of the steps in eating a round cookie.
- My brother is trying to hide the fact that he has a girlfriend, so he goes to the library a lot.
- We just read The Tell-Tale Heart in English class.
- If my dog could talk, he would say, More bones please!
- You can’t go in there, said Jen, Your birthday present is hidden in there.
- Jeff The Hulk Jones was my mortal enemy in elementary school.
- Did Abraham Lincoln really say, Four score and seven years ago?
- If you don’t go clean your room now, shouted Mom, You’re grounded for a week!
- Did you have to read The Jabberwocky at school?
Quotation Marks Practice Quiz Answers
The answers to the practice quiz are listed here. You can find more details on why they’re used this way below.
- The great philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
- In her paper on moon phases, Dr. Celeste claims, “Each moon phase looks like one of the steps in eating a round cookie.”
- My brother is trying to hide the fact that he has a girlfriend, so he “goes to the library” a lot.
- We just read “The Tell-Tale Heart” in English class.
- If my dog could talk, he would say, “More bones please!”
- “You can’t go in there,” said Jen, “Your birthday present is hidden in there.”
- Jeff “The Hulk” Jones was my mortal enemy in elementary school.
- Did Abraham Lincoln really say, “Four score and seven years ago”?
- “If you don’t go clean your room now,” shouted Mom, “You’re grounded for a week!”
- Did you have to read “The Jabberwocky” at school?
Worksheets for Quotation Marks
Practice using quotation marks, and before you know it, the art of it will come with ease.
For practice using quotation marks, you can use the following free quotation mark worksheets:
When to Use Quotation Marks
Aside from conveying that a character in a text is speaking, quotation marks have other uses. Common use is to set off the title of a book or movie in AP style.
Quotation Marks For Literature
Another use is to denote irony or that the speech is not to be taken literally. For example, if you noticed an elderly woman who claimed to not remember any of the events of World War II (because she didn't want to reveal her age, although her age was obvious), you might say, "She certainly is ‘young’ for her age."
The use of quotation marks around the word "young" implies that the woman is anything but young! It's a droll form of irony (or in spoken speech, sarcasm), and the intent is denoted by the use of quotation marks.
Quotation Marks For a Nickname
Other practice using quotation marks might involve their use around a nickname. The famous mid-20th century singer, Nat "King" Cole, was not born with the name "King." It was a nickname given to him by his fellow musicians for the smooth and easy way he had with singing.
You might refer to him as Nat Cole, but it's doubtful anyone would know who you meant. "King'' is part of the singer's name to anyone who remembers him, and the use of the quotation marks around the "King" indicates that the title isn't a birth name, but a nickname.
Quotation Marks Basics and History
In very early editions of the Bible, there aren't any quotation marks. The speakers are indicated by the use of their name, followed by what they said. This was at the beginnings of typography, particularly in the use of moveable type, but it became clear a better way was needed to set off the speech of a character.
Indentation Predates Quotation Marks
The earliest printers came up with the idea of somehow setting off the speech of a character by indenting their lines. The typesetter would indent the quoted speech of a character in the text of a document so the reader would know that what was being said was coming from that one singular speaker.
If the text had a great amount of spoken dialogue without much action between quotes, the use of indentation became problematic. It was hard for the reader to follow who was saying what, if most of the text was indented.
Italics Replace Indentation for Quotes
It was during the Renaissance that the invention of italics came along to distinguish a particular speech, as opposed to merely indenting the text. Italic type was the same as the regular typeface used on a text, except that it was slanted to the right. This novel approach helped a great deal towards indicating which speech belonged to which character.
Introduction of Quotation Marks
It took until the 16th century before the actual invention of quote marks, or the set of elevated twin commas, used by typesetters. The quote marks were not separate symbols like the letters used in moveable type. The quote marks were directly carved into the typesetting metal by the printer before the text was printed.
By 1749, the use of quote marks to set off speech had become common in printed text. Writers added speech tags to note who said each quote. But, writers have to be cautious because using "John said" and "Mary said" and "John said" all in a row is boring and interferes with the flow of text for the reader.