Letter from a Quotation Mark

Dear Students,

My name is Quinn, and I would like to take a moment to share a little bit about myself. The first thing you should know about me is that I am a twin. My sister, who is only a few minutes younger than me and always follows behind me where ever we go, is named Qiana. Together, we are quotation marks, me being the opening quote and Qiana being the closing quote. We are completely inseparable!

Qiana and I are both suckers for a quality quote, and you can always find us hanging around them. In fact, we get quite frustrated when someone quotes without inviting us to join the party. Our favorite kind of quotes are ones where three or more words are copied directly from either a primary or secondary source. If a quote is paraphrased, Qiana and I don’t bother showing up. With all this in mind, if you can remember just a few simple things about us, we should be able to get along just fine.

Firstly, whenever Qiana and I go to a quoting party, we usually invite our friends, Connie Comma and Petunia Period. Now, Connie, she’s not always the biggest fan of quotes, so I take it upon myself to stand between her and the quoted words. On the other hand, Petunia loves a good quote, and Qiana is nice enough to let her stand next to the quoted words. When we’re at a quoting party, we stand like this:

According to Collins Dictionary, “quotation marks are punctuation marks that are used in writing to show where speech or a quotation begins and ends.”

Sometimes Connie Comma and Petunia Period are in different positions. For example, Connie isn’t always free to join us at the party. Also, Petunia has a close friend named Cynthia Citation, and when she joins the party, Petunia prefers to stand behind her. When this happens, we stand like this:

The Visual Communication Guy reminds all his readers that Quoting doesn’t mean summarizing or paraphrasing; it means repeating exactly what someone said (par. 2).

Another reason that Petunia Period might not stand right next to the last word of the quote is when the author’s thoughts continue on after the quoted words. Here is an example of how we stand in this instance:

Quotation marks are used to enclose article titles or parts of a document but not larger works, such as an entire novel or encyclopedia.

Something else you should know about me and Qiana is that we are huggers! Whether we’re hugging the first letter of the quote or the ending punctuation, we’ve got to be hugging someone. We wouldn’t be caught dead at a quoting party standing like this:

The grammar website, English Sentences, states that   We use quotation marks for all kinds of things in writing and literature, like sharing quotations, adding emphasis, expressing dialogue, and identifying titles. 

Oh! I completely forgot to tell you that twins run in our family. Qiana and I have two baby brothers who are also twins named Quashawn and Quentin. They are a little bit smaller than we are but no less important. They accompany us to our quoting parties when we know that there’s going to be a quote inside a quote. At these kinds of quoting parties, we stand like this:

Matthew 4:19 states, And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (English Standard Version).

The last thing you need to know about me and my sister is that we sometimes get intimidated by long quotes. For example, in certain writing formats, block quotes are used for longer quotations. Block quotes are set apart from the author’s text and sometimes formatted differently. This is a lot of information, but the most important thing to remember is that Qiana and I never go to block quoting parties; they’re just not our thing!

Well, I hope that this letter has helped you to get a better idea of how to more effectively invite me, my siblings, and my friends to your quoting parties. Just remember, the most important rule is that you always invite us!

Sincerely,

Quinn Quotation Mark

Who’s who?

Quinn – opening quotation

Qiana – closing quotation

Quashawn – opening apostrophe quotation

Quentin – closing apostrophe quotation

Connie – comma

Petunia – period

Cynthia – citation

Written by Meredith (NEW: Click on author’s name to learn more about him or her!)

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Letter from an Apostrophe

Dear Students,

I am so misunderstood! You’ve probably noticed… I have a bit of a jealousy problem. I am often possessive of the things that follow me. However, I am also a very loyal fellow and do my best to unify other words when letters and numbers have to be omitted.

Since I know you tend to get confused, here are a few tips that will ensure you use me correctly:

First, don’t forget to add me (plus an s) to indicate ownership to singular and plural nouns that don’t already end in “s”. For example, if you are writing about a cookie belonging to Sarah, you need to add an apostrophe + s after you write her name. That gooey, warm, sugar cookie is Sarah’s, and you need to make sure to use me so that everyone realizes the cookie belongs to her. (You see, she would not be very happy if her cookie was stolen.)

Even if you need to give the rights of ownership to a singular proper noun, or someone or something whose name already ends with an “s,” you should still add me plus an “s” after the noun. For example, if Sarah’s last name is James, you would write that Sarah James’s cookies are adorned with rainbow sprinkles. This applies unless you’re writing about someone as important as Moses or Jesus. In that case, you can just leave me hanging by myself after the “s” that ends their name. Don’t worry, I won’t be too lonely.

Lastly, if you’re indicating belonging of something to a plural noun that ends in s, you only need to add me after the s. For example, if you want to remark on the sprinkles on the cookies, you would place me after the “s” in cookies. That way, everyone will understand that the cookies’ sprinkles are very colorful.

Though I can get a little jealous of things that belong to me, I am also a loyal peacekeeper and try my best to help other words where I am needed. When letters have to be omitted in contractions, I kindly stand in the place of any missing letters to hold the word together. For example, if you wanted to combine the words “did” and “not” when complaining that Sarah did not want to share her delicious cookie, you need to place me in between the “n” and the “t” in place of the missing “o” so that I can hold the word together and help you to indicate that Sarah didn’t want to share her cookie.

I know, I know, I’m a complicated bloke. However, we’ll get along fine as long as you remember to use me correctly and avoid my pet peeves. I absolutely detest when students try to use me for a possessive pronoun, or even worse, to form plurals. For example, there is absolutely no reason to use me when writing that Sarah has two cookie’s. There is nothing worse than hanging around in a word for no reason at all! It will also help if you remember that the word “its” is already possessive. You only need to add me between the “t” and “s” if I am needed for a contraction. For example, it’s now time for me to conclude this letter so I can go enjoy one of Sarah’s cookies.

Good luck writers!

Sincerely,

Alphie Apostrophe

Written by Leah

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For more information on how to properly use apostrophes and other punctuation marks, check out our Apostrophes handout and the Quick Reference Flyer page of our website!