I'm new to this website so I need help. A couple punctuation marks confuse me. It's hard for me to remember stuff.

2 Answers 2


So double quotes are used to denote dialog or actual quotes from other sources (things they said word for word and you are just repeating.). Single quotes are normally used for quotes within dialog or quotes within quotes. Consider the following:

A teenage girl walked past on her phone. "And Kelly was like, 'No way!'" she said. "And I was like, 'Way!'"

Witnesses said the man was "acting crazy" by saying, "This is all the Muppet's doing.'"

As a final note of dialog, when a reporter is speaking the quotation, it will normally be given as followed:

The tv reporter continued, "A witness said the man was, quote, 'acting crazy' and 'This is all the Muppet's doing.'"

Here, the mentioning of quoting is used to denote the following statement is a direct statement from another source. Hope this helps.

  • 2
    Please note that this is American English convention. In British English, single quotes are used for dialogue, and double quotes are used for quotes-within-quotes. Oct 12, 2017 at 16:44
  • @LaurenIpsum Thanks for the heads up. Did not know that... though I do think I noticed when I read the British Print of the first Harry Potter book... but I was in middle school then and didn't pick up on the fact that it took place in England for some time into the series... this was before the movies too.
    – hszmv
    Oct 12, 2017 at 17:02
  • I have always used double quotes for dialogue, because a single quote and an apostrophe in a contraction are the same thing. It is also what I see in published fiction, and have never noticed anything else. Maybe I haven't been lucky enough to read fiction published in Britain.
    – Amadeus
    Oct 12, 2017 at 19:08
  • @Amadeus I honestly thought it was just a writing tic of Rowling's... I know astute fans were able to identify a "leaked" portion of a then new Harry Potter book because of the fact that the manuscript had three periods in the ellipse. Rowling always uses four.
    – hszmv
    Oct 13, 2017 at 13:14

This is a style issue, similar to other punctuation marks. As such, use of a reputable style guide is highly recommended. In the US, The Chicago Manual of Style has become the dominant source, but there are others. Even in Chicago, certain contested recommendations have changed from edition to edition {Jesus's followers (current) versus Jesus' followers}.

By Chicago standards, in dialogue, single quotes are only ever used for dialogue within dialogue, and indirect quotations occur as running test.

Paul said, "Jean told me to clean up my act." vs.
Paul said, "Jean told me, 'Clean up your act!'"

I was watching TV, and Seinfeld said to George, "Elaine is driving me crazy. She even told me she was trying to."


Last night I was talking to my buddy, and I said something like, "Seinfeld said to George, 'Elaine is driving me crazy!'" I don't know why I told that story. [first person]


Joey explained to his mom he was up late watching TV because he liked the Seinfeld episode where Seinfeld tells Georgw that Elaine is driving him crazy. [third person]

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