Quotes and quotation marks

Quotations and quotations marks.

Distinguish between indirect and direct quotations

Bad:
She asked her husband “if he suffered from extravagant expectations and did he wish he had married someone else?”

Two solutions:

She asked her husband if he suffered from extravagant expectations and did
he wish he had married someone else.

Or

“Do you suffer from extravagant expectations?” she asked her husband. “Do
you wish you had married someone else?”

In the next example, the writer shifts from an indirect to direct quotation.

Bad:
He told me he got the delirium tremens and you don’t know what it’s like to be locked up in detox.

Better:
After telling me about the delirium tremens, he said, “You don’t know what
it’s like to be locked up in detox.”

In the second example, we shift from indirect to direct quotation, and we insert question marks.

Fix:

He asked, “Did I need some water?”

Stepfather grabbed me by pyjamas and screamed, Are you God?

Using Commas with Quotation Marks.

The following examples illustrate four ways to use commas with quotes.

“I suspect he ain’t ever been Baptized,” Mrs. Connin said, raising her eyebrows at the preacher.
—Flannery O’Conner

In the above example, “I suspect he ain’t ever been baptized” is the quote. “Mrs. Connin said” is the tag—the part of the quote that identifies the speaker. Always insert a comma after a quote if the tag follows, even if the quote is a complete sentence. And be sure to place the comma inside the quotation marks.

Sitting up in her satin-sheeted bed, Mrs. Miller lit a Camel and said, “Chester, your timing is atrocious.”

In the above example, the tag precedes the quote. Therefore, the comma is placed after the tag. Note that the quote now ends with a period. Also note that the period, like the comma above, goes inside of the quotation marks.

“Come on now, let’s begin to have us a good time,” he said coaxingly. “We ain’t got to know one another good yet.”—Flannery O’Conner

In the above example, the tag interrupts the quote. Because the quote is made up of two different sentences, the first sentence, which is followed by the tag, ends with a comma. The tag ends with a period. The second quote, a complete sentence not followed by a tag, ends with a period.

“I hope you don’t think,” he said in a lofty indignant tone, “that I believe in that crap! I may sell Bibles but I know which end is up and I wasn’t born yesterday and I know where I’m going!”—Flannery O’Conner

In this final example, the tag interrupts a quote that is a single sentence. Therefore, commas are inserted before and after the tag.

Remember, commas, periods, and question marks, if they are part of the quotations, go inside the quotation marks.

Integrating quotes into your sentences.

Instead of citing long, dull quotes, it is usually better to integrate quotes into your own words.

When Brently fell in love with Tina, his first cousin, he was so mortified he wrote me a long letter:

Dearest Biff,

It is my sad duty to report that one of Cupid’s fickle arrows has again pierced my wounded heart, causing me to fall headlong in love with Tina, my first cousin. During Daddy’s 75th birthday celebration, while family and friends gorged themselves on brandy-laced coffee, chocolate truffles, and Krispy Kreme donuts, Tina and I made out in the woodshed, pledging ever-lasting love to each other. Oh, Biff, whatever shall I do?

Sincerely, your good friend,

Brently Major Truscott III

Instead, try this:

When Brently fell in love with Tina, his first cousin, he was so mortified he wrote me a long letter, stating that during his father’s birthday celebration, he and Tina “made out” in the woodshed, and pledged “ever-lasting love to each other.”

Make sure, however, that the integrated quote blends grammatically with the rest of the sentence.

Original quote:

“I would trade my boyfriend for a Fendi bag and a pair of Big Bertha pantaloons,” she claimed.

Bad:

She said she “trade my boyfriend for a Fendi bag and a pair of Big Bertha pantaloons.”

fendi.jpg

Quoting Long Prose Passages.
When quoting long prose passages (three lines or more), double indent and do not use quotation marks.

Baxter was nonplussed by Charity’s attraction to younger, more virile men:

How much more can you torture me, Charity? Each night before going out, you dress in that fur-trimmed nylon jacket, lace-trimmed shorts, and fox-fur-trimmed suede boots, hoping I won’t notice. But I do, Charity, I do. When you dress like that, my heart hollers in pain, my skin swells until I feel like the Michelin tire man, my brain gets filled with the mocking laughter of other men who know what you’ve been up to. Oh god, it is too too much to bear.

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