• Find tutor

Characteristics and Use of Quotation Marks

If you use double quotation marks for quotes, use single quotation marks for quotes inside quotes.

Priscilla Aremu
Priscilla Aremu

To fully understand how to quote a quote, some of the characteristics of Quotation marks must be first understood. These are:

  • Quotation marks are used to indicate that quoting a quote. They can be used in any situation where you want to quote someone else’s words or ideas, but you don’t want to use italics or bold.
  • Quotation marks in quotation marks are usually placed surrounding a person’s words, though they can also be placed outside them (as long as they’re not part of the same sentence).
  • You can also use quotation marks in quotations—that is, you can put quotes around other quotes, which you’d place inside or outside of their own quotation marks.

Quotation Marks Types

We have the basic quotation marks types in English grammar: single, Harvard, and double.

Single quotes are placed inside other text, while double quotes enclose entire phrases. Harvard quotation marks enclose entire sentences and should always be used in conjunction with other punctuation, including parentheses, commas, colons, and semicolons. How to know how to quote a quote within a quote using either of these types of quotation marks?

Use Single Quotation Marks vs. Double Quotation Marks

In American English, single quotation marks are used for quotations within quotations. At the same time, in British English, single quotation marks should be used for quotations and double ones to quote a quote.

For example:

“What do their words ‘You’re cringy’ mean?” a student asked.
The coach asked us, “How many of you have read today’s article ‘The Loose End’ in your newsletter?”

When to Use Harvard Quotation Marks Style

This type of quotation marks is used to indicate that the following text is a direct quotation from another person or source (book, article, newspaper, etc.). They’re also used when quoting a quote that is part of another sentence that has already been quoted within the same paragraph. The sentence must include the author’s name, page number, and publishing year.

For example:

Lado, P. O (2010, p. 6) studied the history of the “primitive beginning of mammals” in recovered mummies.

Quoting a Quote

You should be aware of several fundamental guidelines while employing quotation marks. Use single quotation marks for quotes in the quote and use double quotations for quotes when writing in American English. For British English, it is the other way round.


Sandy described the situation as “urgent.”—American dialect.
Sandy described the situation as ‘urgent.’—British dialect

In all English dialects, a question mark appears outside quotation marks when you are the one asking the question, but within when the person being quoted was asking one.


Sandy asks, “How soon can this situation be resolved?”
How many students reported their satisfaction as “high”?


A quote is a direct paraphrase of another person’s remarks that is often enclosed in quotation marks and gives credit to the original writer/speaker.

If you use double quotation marks for quotes, use single quotation marks for quotes inside quotes. 

In another scenario of placing a quote within another quote, use double quotation marks if you normally use single ones.

EnglishEnglish Grammar

Priscilla Aremu

Hi there! I am a Content Writer with over five years of experience creating high-quality content on different topics. And I'm an English native speaker from the USA.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.