Inverted commas are punctuation marks that indicate direct speech or words you’re quoting from someone else’s writing. They’re also known as speech marks, quotation marks, or quotes. In this post, we’ll guide you through the basic rules on how to use inverted commas in your writing.
When to Use Inverted Commas
When writing dialog, you should insert inverted commas at the beginning and end of any words that are spoken:
“That was delicious,” said Jamie. “But I couldn’t eat another thing.”
Here we used two sets of inverted commas, because the words “said Gordon” are not part of the speech.
You should also use inverted commas in academic writing when quoting words directly from what someone else has written or said:
Ramsay describes pineapple pizza as “an Italian tragedy.”
Inverted Commas—Single or Double?
American and Australian English favor double inverted commas, as we have used in the above examples. However, UK English usually prefers single ones like these:
‘Time for a nice cup of tea,’ said Margaret.
If you’re following a style guide, it may tell you which inverted commas to use. Otherwise, the most important thing is to stick to the same style—single or double—throughout your document.
How to Punctuate Quotes Within Quotes
If you want to include a quote within direct speech (or a quote within a quote), you should use the opposite style of inverted commas for the internal quote. So, if you’re using double inverted commas for the dialog, you would use single inverted commas for a quote within it:
“He called it ‘an Italian tragedy,’” said Amy.
If you’re writing for British readers, you should use single inverted commas for the main dialog and double inverted commas for quotes within it:
‘Was “Italian tragedy” the phrase he used?’ Roger asked.
As we have seen, inverted commas are punctuation marks that indicate dialog or a quote from someone else’s written or spoken words. They’re sometimes called speech marks, quotation marks, or quotes.
If you have any other questions about punctuation, you may find the answer in our blog. And if you’d like an expert to check your writing for punctuation errors and any other mistakes, our proofreaders are here to help. Why not send us a trial document today to proofread for free?