You Can Quote Me

I freely admit that I am fairly persnickety when it comes to grammar.  Though there are occasions when I make a choice to use less than perfect grammar or syntax, it is usually either to convey a certain mode of speech or in an ironical sense.  There are a few common grammar mistakes that really make me gnash my teeth.  One of them is misuse of quotation marks.

Friends and fellow-English-speakers, quotation marks do not indicate emphasis.  Italicized print does.  Bold print does.  In some cases, underlining does.  But quotation marks should be used for:

  • Direct quotations (Obviously!)
  • To signal the unusual usage of a word though The Chicago Manual of Style discourages this use (I swear, the dryer “eats” socks.)
  • For the titles of artistic works (“The Ten Commandments” is one of the best movies of all time.)
  • To indicate irony (He’s a real “genius.” He capitalizes all of the “important” words in sentences.)

It’s this last use that makes the misuse of quotation marks to indicate emphasis humorous on occasion.


What’s really in these burritos?  Is there some sort of cheaper-than-beans bean substitute out there?


This use of quotation marks isn’t “working” for me.  Plz stop.


They’re the very best that the Welfare-to-Work program has to offer.

Leave a Reply