Recalcitrant Quotation Marks Uncategorized / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

Lately, I have been seeing some very interesting uses of quotation marks in my students’ writing. So, just where do these lovely inventions belong?

Surrounding direct quotes, hopefully. That is their rightful place. Let’s take a look at them for a few moments.

Let’s say this is your sentence: Parmelee (2019) argues that “here is the direct quote” (p. 123). [Note that I am using APA formatting.]

Please notice something here. I did not put the entire sentence in quotation marks because the entire sentence is not the quote. Do not, therefore, write something like this: “Parmelee (2019) argues that the rain in Spain is polluted (p. 123).” Nope. I did not say the words “Parmelee,” “(2019),” or (p. 123).” I only said that “the rain in Spain is polluted.” (I’m not sure that the rain is dirty there but, if you quote a popular song, you have to pay royalties and that can get pretty pricey.)

When you open a quote, you need to close it at some point in time. Recently, a few students started quotes and they did not end….ever….Other students open quotes and keep them going until they get to another quote. That can get pretty confusing pretty fast, folks.

Don’t overuse quotes, either. I had a paper a few days ago that was one huge quote after another. I tallied up the situation. In a huge paragraph, the student had written only two short sentences. The rest of the paragraph, which covered half a page was, you guessed it, quotations. That is academic laziness. Don’t do it. I promise you, the instructor will notice.

Do you have any questions about quotation mark usage? I woudl be happy to share my thoughts. Oh, the very first quote in this blog posting was correct.

Best,

Dr. Sheri


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Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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