What Are Quotations? (with Examples)

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What Are Quotations? (with Examples)

A quotation is a group of words which are repeated by someone other than the original author or writer.

There are two types of quotation:

A Direct Quotation . A direct quotation is an exact copy of the original. A direct quotation is shown by placing it between quotation marks.

An Indirect Quotation An indirect quotation is close copy of the original, but it is paraphrased to fit its surroundings. An indirect quotation does not have quotation marks.

Examples of Direct Quotations

Below are some examples of direct quotations. Remember, direct quotations are exact copies of the original.
  • "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." (Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826)
  • "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." (Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821)

Examples of Indirect Quotations

Below are some examples of indirect quotations. Remember, these have been paraphrased.
  • Thomas Jefferson once said that the harder he worked, the more luck he seemed to have.
  • According to Napoleon, you should never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Punctuation before a Quotation

When introducing a quotation with an expression like He said or She claimed, you can use a comma, a colon, or nothing. It depends on your desired flow of text. You can let your instincts guide you. For example:
  • Sherlock Holmes turned to Watson and said: "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
  • (Colon used)
  • Tillman claimed, "The world is my lobster."
  • (Comma used)
  • He looked up and said "D'oh!"
  • (Nothing used)
There is a useful guideline which advises to use a comma for quotations of fewer than seven words and a colon for longer quotations.

Read more about using a colon, comma, or nothing before a quotation.

Square Parentheses (Brackets) with a Direct Quotation

With direct quotations, you can use square parentheses (i.e., square brackets ) to show the reader that the words are not from the original. For example:
  • I never believed in him because I knew no white dude would come to my estate at night.
  • (Imagine this is the original.)
  • I never believed in him [Santa Clause] because I knew no white dude would come to my estate at night.
  • ([Santa Clause added to aid understanding.) ([Santa Clause] added to aid understanding.)
  • I never believed in [Santa Clause] because I knew no white dude would come to my estate at night.
  • ([Santa Clause] replaces text to aid understanding. This is also acceptable.)

[sic] with a Direct Quotation

The term [sic] (often italicized and used with or without square brackets) can be used to make it clear that the text is from the original. It is often used when the originator made a grammar or spelling mistake. For example:
  • Using a stick in the wet sand, Jill wrote: "Your [sic] gorgeous."
  • (Note: This should be you're not your. The author is making it clear this was Jill's error.)
Read more about square parentheses.

Ellipsis for Omitted Text

Three dots (called ellipsis) can be used to show where text has been omitted from a direct quotation. For example:
  • I never believed I knew no white dude would come to my estate .
Read more about ellipsis.

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