Should I write:

I haven't met Sophia after our 'friendly' meeting.


I haven't met Sophia after our "friendly" meeting.

The sight reminded me of a part of the Genesis that Mom used to read to me: 'And God said, Let there be light, and there was light . . .’


The sight reminded me of a part of the Genesis that Mom used to read to me: “And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light . . .’”

That's when my common sense kicked in. 'Hey what are you doing?' it said . . .


That's when my common sense kicked in. "Hey what are you doing?" it said . . .

I use double quotes for dialogue.

  • 1
    I agree with Dale below. Just a commentary on your first example: I wouldn't use quotes to express irony, sarcasm or similar deviations from the common meaning of a word. I would express that with words, e.g. "I haven't met Sophia after what she probably saw as a friendly meeting but during which she wasn't actually that friendly to me at all." Bad example, but you get the idea: show what you mean with the quotation marks.
    – user5645
    Nov 17, 2014 at 11:23
  • @what Actually I think his example is a good use of sarcastic or scare quotes. It succinctly indicates that the meeting was meant to be friendly, or was pretending to be friendly, but in reality wasn't. Nov 17, 2014 at 14:17
  • It is, @LaurenIpsum, but what I'm saying is that the use of sarcastic quotes does not explain what was not friendly (the situation, the behavior of one of the persons, the reason for meeting, etc.) and therefore does not advance the plot but confuse it. So you need an explanation for what was unfriendly, and then you can give the explanation right away, without the unnecessary empty phrase.
    – user5645
    Nov 18, 2014 at 7:54

1 Answer 1


Those (and dialogue) are all quotations. The first might be quoting Sophia or an unnamed sarcastic commentator or someone else. The second quotes Genesis. The third quotes the character's anthropomorphized common sense. All quotations.

So punctuate them like other quotations.

  • 5
    And to clarify: In American English you use double quotes for quotations; in British English you use single quotes. So use whatever the convention is for whatever flavor of English you're writing in. Nov 17, 2014 at 11:01
  • 1
    @LaurenIpsum There are standards for each culture, but literature often deviates from standards. For example, some German books use French quotes, or no quotes (!), for dialogue. Because there is a standard, this deviation from standard causes a specific reading experience that the author may consciously employ. But whatever the author choses to do, it better be internally consistent.
    – user5645
    Nov 18, 2014 at 7:51
  • @what I did not know that about German books. Fascinating. Nov 18, 2014 at 10:55
  • English language literature is just as flexible. E.g. theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/feb/06/… or online.wsj.com/articles/SB122489468502968839 and english.stackexchange.com/questions/152082/…
    – user5645
    Nov 18, 2014 at 12:24
  • I interpreted the first one to be scare quotes, not a literal quotation. May 4, 2019 at 20:16

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