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Punctuation - Quotation Marks and Apostrophes

This resource was written by Tony Cimasko.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on September 25, 2012 .


This resource explains how to use quotation marks and apostrophes in your writing.

Quotation marks (") are often used to indicate something said or written by another person, particularly if it is included inside your own original writing.  If the quotation is embedded inside one of your own sentences, use commas:

Quotation marks are also used for language used to describe something or someone, but which is not being used by most people.  Some examples include nicknames, labels for things that people do not wish to talk about in detail, or new things that have not been named or identified yet:

As you can see in the examples above, when a comma or period comes at the end of a pair of quotation marks, it goes inside the marks, not outside.  However, if you are using quotation marks for a special word or phrase (not quoting someone’s writing or speech), you can put question marks and exclamation marks outside the quotation:

Apostrophes (') are used less frequently in American English writing.  They are used with an s to indicate possession by one person or thing ('s) or two or more persons or things (s'):

They are also a necessary part of contractions, in which words are combined or shortened:

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