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Quotation Marks and Parentheses

Updated on November 15, 2023

Framing Speech and Additional Information #

Quotation marks and parentheses are essential tools in English writing, used to frame direct speech, quotations, and additional information. Languagehood’s guide is designed to help learners use these punctuation marks properly to enhance the clarity and depth of their writing.

Understanding Quotation Marks (“ ”) #

  • Use: To indicate the exact words spoken by someone (direct speech) or to denote a direct quote from a text. Also used for titles of short works, such as articles, poems, and songs.
  • Example: “She said, ‘I’ll be there soon.'”
  • Example: “He recited ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost.”

Understanding Parentheses ( ) #

  • Use: To provide extra information or an aside that is related to but separate from the main point. Also used to indicate additional details or references.
  • Example: “She finally answered (after taking a deep breath) that she would join the project.”
  • Example: “The results were conclusive (see Appendix A for the full report).”

When to Use Quotation Marks #

  • Direct Speech: For dialogue or quoting someone’s exact words.
    • “Did he really say, ‘It’s over’?”
  • Titles: For short work titles that aren’t published independently.
    • “Did you read the article ‘The Future of AI’ in the magazine?”

When to Use Parentheses #

  • Additional Information: For non-essential but related information that could be omitted without changing the main message.
    • “The conference (which was very informative) ended yesterday.”
  • Clarification: To clarify or give context.
    • “We will meet in April (the 15th) to discuss the plans.”

Common Mistakes to Avoid #

  • Overuse: Don’t overuse parentheses or quotation marks, as it can make writing appear cluttered.
  • Punctuation with Quotation Marks: In American English, periods and commas go inside quotation marks, while in British English, they go outside unless part of the quoted material.
    • American English: “She said, ‘I’m happy to be here,’ and smiled.”
    • British English: “She said, ‘I’m happy to be here’, and smiled.”
  • Punctuation with Parentheses: If the parenthetical is a full sentence within another sentence, don’t capitalize the first letter or end with a period inside the parentheses (but do use a question mark or exclamation point if appropriate).
    • “We decided to visit the museum (the weather was too bad for a hike).”

Examples for Practice #

  • Quotation Marks: “I can’t believe you just asked me, ‘Are you serious?'”
  • Parentheses: “He gave us all the details (which I won’t bore you with) yesterday.”

Quotation marks and parentheses serve distinct functions in English punctuation, helping to ensure that writing is well-organized and that additional information is provided without disrupting the flow. This guide from Languagehood offers learners the rules and examples needed to employ these punctuation marks effectively in their writing.

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