What's the difference between a single and a double quotation mark in English? I've heard that it only depends on where you live the US (for double quotation mark) or the UK and Australia (for single quotation mark).

Does it depend on anything else?

  • 1
    There are two different uses. If you are using double quotation marks for speech, as in a novel or other quotation, then, anything quoted within the quotation marks takes single quotes: "He yelled 'Stop talking' at me several times," said John. The BBC uses single quotation marks in headlines and its online site (inverted commas) but in novels and other quoted speech, what I said is the same thing in AmE and BrE.
    – Lambie
    May 29 '17 at 17:46
  • The convention varies. You will find direct speech surrounded by double-quotation marks and by single quotation marks. May 29 '17 at 19:45

Generally, in North America, a quotation is enclosed in double quotation-marks and any interior quotations are enclosed in single quotation-marks:

"Is this what they mean by 'overthinking things'?" he asked.

In the UK, they do it the other way around. I don't know why.

  • "In the UK, they do it the other way around": I was always taught to use double-quote-marks ("sixty-six and ninety-nine", back in primary school) in the UK, with single-quotes not mentioned in my classes at all. This is, in fact, the first I've heard of a convention for using single-quotes as the first level in BrE.
    – Darael
    Dec 12 '18 at 21:57
  • @Darael -- when I was a kid, I read a lot of old paperback novels. The British ones (Orwell and Geoffrey Household come to mind) always used single-quotes first. Maybe this has changed with the passage of time. Mar 10 '19 at 20:28
  • could very well be. All I know for sure is that it doesn't appear to be the active convention now
    – Darael
    Mar 10 '19 at 20:51

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