It is a form of punctuation that looks like this: " "
Quotation marks indicate that the words within them are exactly what someone said or lifted exactly as written in text. Usually a speaker tag (words identifying who said the quote or from where the quote was taken) precedes or follows the quote and is set off by a comma. Some rules regarding the correct usage of quotation marks:
1) Periods and commas that follow a quote are always enclosed in the quotation marks.
For example: Junior's shoulders stiffened when his mama said, "I ain't gonna hit a lick at a stick today even if a cow hooks me."
"We ain't got no milk, though, Mama," PeteJoe whined, hoping to spur her to busyness.
"You boys just hush yourselves up," she said, irritated, "and get on and do your chores!"
2) When writing quotes within quotes, use single quotation marks.
For example: PeteJoe's shoulders slumped. "Mr. Edwayne tells us, 'Y'all gonna get double for ever snake over 4 foot,' and Mama tells us, 'Do your chores and don't mess with no snakes.'"
3) Alert! Alert! Semicolons and colons are NEVER enclosed in quotation marks, unless they are part of the exact words.
For example: Junior ventured, "Mama, we aim to go fishing today"; nonetheless, she stuck to her ain't-gonna-git-up attitude.
4) Question marks and exclamation marks may or may not be enclosed in quotation marks.
a) If the quoted material is the question or exclamation, enclose the question/exclamation mark within the quotation marks.
For example: PeteJoe tried his sweet-talking voice, sing-songing, "Mama, is it alright with you if when we finish all the chores we head down to the bog to gig some frogs for dinner?"
Her eyes closed, then suddenly flew open with a fiery pitch, and she spat, "I know where you boys been goin' and what you been doing!"
b) If the words outside of the quotation marks AND the quoted material are both questions or exclamations, enclose the question/exclamation mark within the quotation marks.
For example: Did she ask, "How many frogs can y'all gig in an afternoon?"
By golly and jimineeze-sneeze, she shouted, "Git me some frog legs, boys!"
c) If the words outside of quotation marks are a question or exclamation, but the words within the quotation marks are not, then the question/exclamation mark follows the quotation marks.
For example: Did she say, "You'll never finish all of your chores before dark"?
By golly and jimineeze-sneeze, she said, "I just need to rest my eyes a bit"!
In the end, it's the punctuation, not the quotation, that gets folks.
Tomorrow: Resultative Adjective
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