I read one of the stories of an article from The Economist a few days ago and came across words with quotation marks.

The title of the article is "Suffering from shortages? How to survive without puppies, fake tan or IKEA".

The story is about a man left his wife's dog, Luca, unattended outside a grocery store, and a dognapper took the dog. Fortunately, the dog was found a couple days later, and people sent emails to her. The author wrote:

"Some congratulated her on Luca’s recovery; others were “nasty” and advised her to “dump the guy” who dared to leave her dog unattended".

Do the quotation marks around "nasty" actually mean these people are not nasty at all, instead, they just played jokes on her husband, and the quotation marks around "dump the guy" are simply quoting what they really said in email?

This story briefly went viral, and de Grazia told me she got emails from all over the world and “scores of letters from little kids”. Some congratulated her on Luca’s recovery; others were “nasty” and advised her to “dump the guy” who dared to leave her wiener dog unattended. (True fact: the sausages were named after the dog, not the other way around; the meat treats were first called “dachshund sausages”.)

(Source: https://www.economist.com/1843/2021/11/25/suffering-from-shortages-how-to-survive-without-puppies-fake-tan-or-ikea)

  • 2
    If the story is about what the wife said about the emails, then 'nasty' could be in quotes because she actually said that word. Jul 28, 2023 at 20:41
  • 3
    Where did you read this story? Please link to the source if possible.
    – gotube
    Jul 28, 2023 at 21:02
  • 1
    I have added the information of its source in my post. It is what the wife told the journalist in the interview. I now got it. Both of the quotation marks are used here because the journalist is quoting what the wife said instead of the journalist's own idea.
    – Emma-Li
    Jul 28, 2023 at 22:41
  • You can write your own answer I agree that the quotes are just because the author is quoting the wife's words.
    – James K
    Jul 29, 2023 at 0:17
  • Why the downvote? This is a reasonable question about usage.
    – BadZen
    Jul 29, 2023 at 2:07

1 Answer 1


I've edited to add an excerpt showing the usage in the source as well as a link to the full article. (It's paywalled, so simply disable Javascript to view it if you wish.)

The answer is that the word "nasty" and the phrase "dump the guy" are in quotations because it is a direct quote.

The original speaker here is described by "little kids" in the source. The author is reporting that the "scores of letters from little kids" actually contained those words.

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