The sentence goes,

The question is, "How does the race question fit in as an overlay to all of this?" And when we talk about the prosperity society, was that truly a prosperity society in terms of distribution?

I'm doing a transcription FYI, so I kind of need some help with it. Does 'race question' need single quotation marks? Do quotation marks end after the first question? Is the second sentence even a question?

  • 1
    Have you done a search on race question to see whether others have put it in quotation marks? Yes, the first question is independent, so you need to close the quotes. Yes, the second sentence is a question. Jan 25, 2021 at 12:49

1 Answer 1


Questions don't automatically belong within quotation marks. If it's a question that someone else has asked (or otherwise a quotation from someone or somewhere) then it belongs in quotation marks. But if it is a question that you are posing, it doesn't need quotation marks. You can simply write:

The question is, how does the race question fit in as an overlay to all of this?


The question is: how does the race question fit in as an overlay to all of this?

Note: in American English there is normally a capital letter after the colon ("How"); in British English, lower case is usual.

Whether "race question" belongs in quotation marks is a personal choice. Leaving the quotes off suggests that you know what the race question is and you think that "race question" is a good name for it; adding the quotes suggests that "race question" is someone else's term or that you aren't quite sure that it's the appropriate term.

If you decide to enclose the question within quotation marks and if you also decide to enclose "race question" in quotes, it's true that if the question as a whole is enclosed in double quotes, "race question" should then be single quotes, whereas if the question as a whole is in single quotes, "race question" should be in double quotes.

It's often said that outer quotes are double in American English and single in British English. Actually, British English style varies: novels tend to use single quotes, while most newspapers and magazines use double quotes. Either way, if you use single quotes for the outer quotation, you use double for the inner - and vice versa.

  • Excellent answer. I was unsure about the comma/colon after 'The question is'. Because of that confusion, I avoid using 'The question is' altogether.
    – Void
    Jan 25, 2021 at 15:52

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