Inverted Commas: Quotation Marks

Inverted Commas / Quotation Marks: Also known as speech marks or quotes, inverted commas could be a single or double mark-‘z’ or “z”. These are mainly used to mark a speaker’s speech or a quote by a famous personality. You must have seen these in newspapers, in the plays from your textbooks and in your poems. Along with simpler punctuations like simple commas, English has created a specific use for the inverted commas.

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inverted commas

As have been seen in general, the ‘single style’ inverted commas are commonly used by UK natives as opposed to Americans. Apart from that, they are also used within the “double style” inverted commas.

  • He said, “That will be ‘marvelous’, we will see you at the playground.”

Let’s jot down a few use cases of the inverted commas/quotation marks with the help of a few examples because nothing explains better than a good example.

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Usage and Applications of Inverted Commas

1. To mark the beginning and the end of a direct speech: This is done so as the speaker’s words are expressed exactly as spoken word-by-word.

  • “I will go to Delhi before I reach Manali on a bike”, Pinky said.
  • “You too, Brutus?!”, exclaimed Caeser in disbelief.
  • “Come home directly after school without wasting any time.”, said Sanam’s mom to her.

Now, if you ask us if single inverted commas could have been used in the place of the double inverted commas, the answer is yes. In UK English, single inverted commas are more commonly used than double inverted commas. Whichever you chose, just remember to stick to one style throughout a piece of writing to maintain consistency and not break the writing style flow.

2. To mark a certain word or a phrase that’s being quoted from another place or person. We also use the inverted commas to mark a significant word or phrase in a sentence.

  • We call this phenomenon “the water-cycle”. 
  • One of Michael Jackson’s hit songs is called “Billy Jean.”

3. When a case like the above two appears between a direct speech, we use the single inverted commas. So let’s say we are quoting a direct speech and have to stress a phrase within that quote, we will put the direct speech in double inverted commas and stress the phrase with single style inverted commas.


Sometimes there’s a quote within a quote. Yes, it does sound tricky but you will definitely come across situations when you are quoting what someone else quoted for someone or something. Even in that case, remember to use the hierarchy of quotes from double to single. Let’s see a few examples to understand this better:

  • Professor May said, “We all are beginners in literature but regardless of how learned we are, we all have heard “What is in the name?” from Shakespeare.
  • Martha joked, “President Trump literally uses the word “bigly” with an absolute confidence of it being an actual word.”
  • My teacher narrated the plot of Harry Potter: “Dumbledore was the best school headmaster. He once said,’Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it’ and history shows that he meant it.”

Remember that we shouldn’t overdo the inverted commas so much that it irritates the reader and we should only use it wisely where necessary. Now that you have some idea about inverted commas, how about you listen to a few sentences from your friends and try to write them down as direct speech using inverted commas? Could be a fun activity if you mix it up like a game!

Have fun with grammar!

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