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Proper Punctuation – Quotations

Quotation marks are mainly used to show the exact words that someone spoke. It can be difficult to use quotation marks if you’re not sure where to put all the punctuation. Proper punctuation for quotation marks becomes much simpler if you follow a few simple rules. Take a look at the example below.


As I opened my eyes that Monday morning, all I could see was my brother’s dirty face. He must have already eaten breakfast because the oatmeal was all over his cheeks.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Mom said to check and see if you were awake yet," he replied.

I responded in the calmest tone I could manage, "I’m awake. Now get out of my room."

"Geez," he said. "You’re grumpy in the morning."


Notice that every time someone new speaks, it starts a new paragraph. This helps the reader keep track of who is talking. Also, you can see from the example above that all of the punctuation is inside the quotation marks. If you’re telling who the speaker is after the quote, like in the second sentence, and you would normally end the sentence with a period, use a comma instead. If you’re telling who the speaker is before the quote, like the third sentence, use a comma before you start the quotation and end the quotation as you would normally end the sentence. Finally, if the speaker is continuing to talk, but saying two separate sentences, as in the last quotation in the example, you don’t need to repeat who is speaking.

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