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Note 13 – Inverted commas (Part 1)

My writing challenge

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link –  If you would prefer to dive straight into note 13, then please read on…

Single and double inverted commas

Inverted commas (also known as speech marks, quotation marks or quotes) are punctuation marks which separate out a set of words from the main text.  Today I am going to blog about the when to use inverted commas and tomorrow I will explain the different reasons for using them. 

When to use single and when to use double

The inverted commas can be ‘single’ or “double” and there doesn’t appear to be any fixed rules of which ones to use and when.  According to John Seeley, Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, ‘single inverted commas tend to be preferred in Britain and double in the US’.

In ‘The Queen’s English’, Bernard C. Lamb explains that publishers prefer quotation marks on the outside of the text, so that they don’t get confused with apostrophes within it.  My example to  illustrate this is below.  The second sentence is much clearer:

she immediately said ‘they’re Jenny’s shoes’

she immediately said “they’re Jenny’s shoes”

Try to be consistent

If you are still unsure how to use inverted commas, try to be consistent and this should improve the look of your writing.  For example, use one pair of inverted commas (e.g. single) on the outside of the quote and then a different pair (e.g double) inside.  Each example below is potentially correct, but the last two are much clearer:

Fred said: “Come over here and read the “Mr Magic” book with me”

Fred said: ‘Come over here and read the ‘Mr Magic’ book with me’

Fred said: “Come over here and read the ‘Mr Magic’ book with me”

Fred said: ‘Come over here and read the “Mr Magic” book with me’

My thoughts:  Not a difficult topic today; however if inverted commas are used inconsistently it may be confusing for the reader.  Today I have found many different uses for inverted commas, so I’m leaving that for part 2 – I bet you can’t wait!

Hope you are having a good weekend.  Friday 13th has been a good one for me.

Until tomorrow


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Twitter: @madeirasandra  and  @tipsandluxuries

Reference list

John Seeley, Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation

Bernard C. Lamb The Queen’s English (2010), UK


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


2 thoughts on “Note 13 – Inverted commas (Part 1)

  1. Great post thanks for sharing. Your layout is excellent. I enjoy reading your articles all the time.

    Posted by Changing Lifestyles | May 14, 2011, 1:39 am

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