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Quotation marks for speech

Do you remember learning about talking marks at school? I remember thinking of them as commas up in the sky:)

Over time, I learnt they are called quotation marks and that there are a few simple rules associated with their use. One of the rules about quotation marks is that you don’t close them until the person finishes speaking.

It isn’t often I come across examples of this in business writing – it’s generally more relevant for fiction or story writing. However, I did come across a media release recently which completely ignored this rule (and a few others but that’s a different story altogether!)

How do we use this rule? I’m glad you asked!

John said ‘It is hot today.’

John has finished speaking so we close off the quotation marks – easy.

John said ‘It is hot today and I would like to go the pool for a swim. The pool is just around the corner.

‘I wonder if Mary and Susan would like to come too? I will call them before I leave.’

In this example, John’s speech is divided into two paragraphs but he hadn’t finished speaking so I didn’t close the quotation marks. For clarity, however, I opened them again to show he is still talking (and I hadn’t just forgotten to close them!)

However, if John’s talking was interupted  by text, we would close the quotation marks:

 ‘It is hot today and I would like to go the pool for a swim. The pool is just around the corner,’ said John.

‘I wonder if Mary and Susan would like to come too? I will call them before I leave.’