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How to Quote a Quote Properly in American & British English

In American English, double quotation marks are used for direct quotations, and single quotes are used for references within quotations, as in the example below. Instead of using a double quotation mark inside another section, the British prefer to use single quotation marks.

An explanation of the correct way to quote someone

Because of the peculiar rules of the English language, writing may be both straightforward and enjoyable. Even though there exist regulations, they can be challenging to understand in some situations. The purpose of this article is to clarify what a quote is in both American and British English and how to utilize it in both languages correctly.

When it comes to quotation marks, the rules can be confusing at first. However, once you grasp the fundamentals, it becomes much more manageable. It’s challenging to know what to do when confronted with quotes within quotes. Discover the answer by continuing to read this article.

Distinctions between US and UK English

To begin with, English is spoken in the United Kingdom, and the United States differs in three ways:

  • Differing linguistic conventions: word meanings and spellings, grammar
  • Differences in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
  • In terms of vocabulary, there are several significant distinctions, particularly in business situations.

In-between-quotations citations

An obvious question is why a quote would ever be used first place. A wide variety of factors lead to this conclusion. Example: A fictional character may speak aloud the words of another character.

  • I asked the students to think about what the teacher had said when she said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Quotation marks used in the preceding example are in the American style, as shown in the screenshot. Double quotation marks are used to denote emphasis on the words in the leading quote. The quote within the quote, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is surrounded by single quotation marks to emphasize its importance. According to American convention, quotes within quotes should be double-quoted; they should not be single-quoted in British writing. There is no need to include a space between your single and double quotation marks if they are placed next to each other (either at the start and the end of the quote).

Invoking the Strength of a Statement

What is the proper way to cite a passage? In other words, how do you quote something that already has a quote in it? The underlying idea will always remain constant. The outside section should be double quotes in American English, while the inside should be single quotes. Contrary to American English, in British English, you should do the opposite.

Assume you’re writing an essay and need to include a quote from one of your favourite books. Here’s how the original book passage might have looked:

On a variety of topics, I recall my father expressing strong convictions, including smoking. Even though Pop was fond of saying, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch, Jimmy,” it came across as a little disingenuous given that he wasn’t much of a lunch eater in the first place.

You could say the following when quoting this section:

The author shares a recollection of his father in the book’s introduction. For some reason, Pop liked to say, “There’s no free lunch, Jimmy,” even though he never ate much for lunch himself.”

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, Jimmy, so the quotes around that were double quotes in the original version of the paragraph. As a result, you should use single quotation marks when quoting this passage: “There’s no free lunch,” as in “There’s no free lunch.”

Quoting from Within Another Quote

We refer to this type of quotation as a nested quotation since it is nestled inside another reference. If you’re using nested quotes, you’ll see that the quotation marks alternate between double and single quotes. Single quotes have a separate set of standards in American and English writing and editing because of the differences in conventions used to indicate such quotations. To begin, I’ll describe the quotation rules used by American authors in their works.

Use a Quotation in American English by Following These Steps

  • There are several distinct ways to quote and cite a source correctly in American English. We’ll start with APA Formatting since it’s the most common. For example, to reference a quote in this style, the writer must add the author’s last name, the year the book was published, and the page number provided within a pair of parentheses. Parenthetical citation, to use a technical term, is what this is.
  • MLA Formatting is yet another citation format that’s commonly employed when quoting someone. Authors’ last names and page numbers are the only things that are highlighted in this particular formatting style. However, there are specific differences between the APA and MLA structuring styles, such as how to indicate the page number and the year that a piece of writing was published.
  • In the end, quotes are formatted using Chicago Style. Using Chicago formatting, the text contains fewer than 100 words, quotation marks are used within the quote, and page references are included in parentheses.
  • Using this approach, you may write any paper, from research papers to essays, regardless of subject matter. There is a significant difference between this format’s use of footnotes to establish references within the text and the APA and MLA styles.

What Happens When You Put Punctuation Inside a Quotation Mark?

Is the period placed before or after the quotations in a quotation?

Punctuation usage varies from American English to British English, just like the way quote marks are used.

English punctuation in the United States of America

Use of quotation marks in an essay Punctuation inside of quotations is a guideline of grammar. Close quotation marks in American English contain periods and commas, regardless of whether the punctuation is genuinely quoted.

  • A “hundreds of demonstrators” gathered to meet with the governor.
  • He stated that he “refuses to go to the movies,” but I believe that he will eventually change his mind.

All punctuation except the question mark and exclamation point applies only to the cited item in quotation marks. Those who use the entire sentence are escorted to the outside.

  • “Do you think you’re having a good time?” the speaker inquired of the audience.
  • Were the words, “We’re breaking up,” truly his?

Guidelines for Writing Quotations Correctly

A writer or editor can always strive to improve their writing and grammar. Concerning the use of quotations, if you’re writing a complete paragraph containing a reference, start each paragraph with a quotation mark at the start. Finish the quote by adding it to the conclusion of the section. This clarifies to the reader that there will be a lot of dialogue, and it keeps the writer on task.

American English is the most widely adopted writing style. To make text in American English more readable, writers typically use punctuation inside quotation marks, such as commas, periods, question marks, and exclamation point symbols. If the author has any doubts about the quote, a question mark will appear after the quotations.

Quotations are not uncommon when composing titles for literary works such as poetry, books, essays, and short fiction. If you want to use quotation marks around the title of an article or a book, you can do so without breaking grammar rules. Making in-text citations more user-friendly makes it easy for the reader to grasp your sources and helps establish good writing habits.

Using commas and quotation marks properly in British English

Periods and commas are not inserted inside the closing quotation mark in British English unless they are a part of the citation.

  • There were “hundreds of demonstrators today,” according to the governor.
  • My friend claims to be anti-movie, but I have faith that he’ll change his mind.

British and American English use punctuation marks for writing questions and exclamation points, including dashes and semicolons. They go inside quotation marks when they’re only applicable to the quoted text. Those who apply to the entire sentence are escorted to the outside.

  • The speaker asked the audience, “Are you having fun?”
  • What did he mean when he said, “We’re breaking up?”

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