Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Quotation marks #1

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letters of Williamsburg eighteenth century press
Image via Wikipedia

This is the first in a mini-series about how to use quotation marks. Here’s a straightforward example:

“The train is coming,” she said.

Note that the comma comes before the final speech mark and there’s a full stop after ‘said’.

Or this can be turned around with the use of a colon after ‘said’, as follows:

She said: “The train is coming.”  Note that the actual quote begins with a capital letter and the full stop comes before the final speech mark.

It is also OK to use a comma instead of a colon, for example:

She said, “The train is coming.”

The examples above use double quote marks (“). You can also use single quote marks (‘) if you wish, for example:

‘The train is coming,’ she said.


She said: ‘The train is coming.’

Don’t mix and match between the two styles in your writing: be consistent.

More on quotation marks

Quotes within quotes

Using speech marks with long quotes

What’s the point? A guide to punctuation


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