Use double quotation marks for quotations and single quotation marks for quotations inside a quotation in American English.

Quotations and quotations inside a quotation in British English are both done using single quotation marks.

Although quotation marks appear complicated at first, they aren’t so bad once you grasp the fundamental concepts. But what do you do if you have quotations inside a quotation? Continue reading to discover more.

Quotations Inside a Quotation

Why would you ever have a quotation within a quotation? There are several reasons for this. For example, a character in a tale may speak aloud from another person’s words.

“Let us look at the phrase ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,'” said the instructor.

The example above employs American-style quotation marks. The main quote is framed in double quotation marks. The phrase enclosed in single quotation marks, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is a quote within a quote. (The American and British traditions are the polar opposite; in the United States, single quotation marks are used for the main quote and double quotation marks for the quote within the quotes.) You don’t need to add a space between the single and double quotation marks if they come next to each other at the beginning or end of the quote (whether before or after).

Quoting a Quote

What do you do if the material you’re quoting already includes a quote? The principle will not change. Use double quotes for the outside quotation and single quotes for the inside quotation in American English. In British English, use the opposite procedure.

Let’s assume you’re looking for a quote to use in an essay, and the material you want to include is from another source.

Imagine if the book’s first passage was written like so:

Pop was a firm believer in many things. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, Jimmy,” Pop would say, but it seemed disingenuous because he wasn’t much of a lunch eater, to begin with.

When you utilize this quote, you may remark:

In the book’s opening, the author recalls a recollection of his father. “Pop used to say, ‘There isn’t such thing as a free lunch, Jimmy,’ but it appeared a little disingenuous because he wasn’t much of a lunch-eater in general.”

When you’re using single quotation marks, there’s no such thing as a free lunch; the quotations around don’t match the original text. However, when you quote the passage, there’s no such thing as a free lunch; it becomes a quote within a quote, so double quotation marks should be used instead. Visit our website for more.