Quotation (speech) marks to indicate alleged or so-called
The Quick AnswerUse quotation marks to denote so-called or to show that a word is not being used in its literal sense. Do not use the words so-called AND use quotation marks – that is tautology. Also, don't use quotation marks for emphasis.
Use Quotation Marks to Denote So-Called or AllegedQuotation marks can be used to denote the idea of so-called, alleged, or supposed.
- Peter's "mates" left him on the path to die. (so-called mates)
- Using his father's equipment, Alexander found over 50,000 bacteria on a "clean" chopping
- The sheep were noticeably stressed. It must've been a very big "cat." (In this example, the quotation marks play two roles. They show a quotation of somebody who claimed the culprit was a cat and also allude to the idea of a so-called cat.)
"rescue" – correct (it's not a real rescue)
Use Quotation Marks to Denote Not LiterallyQuotation marks can also be used to recognize when a word is not being used in its literal meaning. This happens quite often with personification (i.e., giving something a human trait). For example:
- The waves "know" when you're about to stand up on the board. (Clearly, waves cannot know things. The quotes are used to convey the idea of "not literally.")
- Peter's so-called "mates" left him on the path to freeze. (In this example, so-called and the quotation marks are doing the same job. This is known as tautology.)
- Peter's so-called mates left him on the path to freeze.
- Peter's "mates" left him on the path to freeze.
Don't Use Quotation Marks for EmphasisIf you use quotation marks for emphasis, they might be read as meaning alleged or so-called. For example:
- We sell "fresh" fish.