25th June 2022
“US” vs ‘UK’: How Different Dialects Use Quote Marks
When you write or read in different dialects, you’ll find that the spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation are all different. If you’re writing a novel with quoted conversations or a research paper with quotes from sources, we’re here to help explain the differences in how US and UK English use quote marks. Read on to learn more.
Single or Double Quote Marks?
US English uses double quote marks to signify quotations or dialogue, and single quote marks for nested quotations:
Blake asked, “Do you think Nanette Avery was right when she said, ‘Punctuation marks are like road signs; without them we just may get lost…’?”
UK English follows the opposite rule, using single quote marks to signify quotations or dialogue, and double quote marks for nested quotations:
Blake asked, ‘Do you think Nanette Avery was right when she said, “Punctuation marks are like road signs; without them we just may get lost…”?’
Even though US and UK English use quote marks differently, as you can see from the examples above, they both agree that punctuation marks, like exclamation points and question marks, go inside the quote marks when they are part of the quoted text. Otherwise, they always go outside the quote marks, as do colons and semicolons.
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However, the dialects differ again with the use of full stops and commas in quoted text. US English always places these punctuation marks inside the quote marks, even when they’re not part of the original quoted text:
We agree with Edgar Allen Poe that “The writer who neglects punctuation, or mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood.”
Meanwhile, UK English places full stops and commas outside of quote marks when they’re not part of the original quoted text:
We agree with Edgar Allen Poe that ‘The writer who neglects punctuation, or mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood’.
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