When To Use Single Quotes Vs Double Quotes: Best Full Guide [2022]

Single Quotes Vs Double Quotes

To indicate quotations within other quotations, single quotation marks can be used. Double quotation marks can be used to include quoted writing or speech when they are included in the text. Then, Single Quotes Vs Double Quotes: what’s the difference? Read on to know more.

What Is The Purpose Of Single Quotes?

What Is The Purpose Of Single Quotes

  • The CMOS states that single quote marks can be used to represent a quotation within a quotation.

Example: “Are you crazy?” said Caitlin. “When you said ‘Commas don’t matter,’ I died a little inside.”

  • If your audience speaks British English, you can switch between single and double quotation marks. You should use a single router and double inner quotation mark for a quote within an existing quote.

Example: ‘Are you crazy?’ said Caitlin. ‘When you said “Commas don’t matter,” I died a little inside.’

  • What if you have a quotation inside a quotation? American English would say that the order is double, single, and then twice again.

Example: “Is he crazy?” said Caitlin. “When you said ‘Mark said “Commas don’t matter,”’ I died a little inside.”

It’s a maze. It might be easier to rewrite the sentence in the last example.

The following are some other uses of single quotation marks that CMOS doesn’t recommend:

  • In headlines, use single quotation marks.
  • Single quotation marks are used to delimit words that are not being used in their intended meaning.
  • For emphasis, use single quotation marks (CMOS recommends italics; sometimes quotation marks may be used depending upon the context).
  • These rules could apply if you use a style guide that does not recommend them.

What Do Double Quotes Serve?

What Do Double Quotes Serve

For dialogue, quotation marks

To signal that someone is speaking, use quotation marks.

Titles of works can be referred to as quotation marks.

Use quotation marks for titles of songs, poems, stories, newspaper articles, and chapter titles.

Quotation marks are scare quotes.

This one is a little trickier. Here’s important Rule 7.57 of The Chicago Manual of Style.

Quotation marks can be used to alert readers when a term is being used in a non-standard, slang, ironic, or other special sense. Scare quotes like these can be used to indicate “This is not my term” or “This is not how the term is usually applied.” Like any such device, the scare quotes lose their power and can irritate readers.

You can find examples of each use in my discussion/rant on quotation mark abuse.

Single Quotes Vs Double Quotes? It’s Really Quite Simple

Single Quotes

Depending on the context and geographical location, single or double quotes can be used in different ways. Most English-speaking countries use double quotations to mark direct speech and single quotes for speech within the speech.

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While both types of quotes are acceptable in the UK to signify direct speech, single quotes are more common. The use of quotes can be reversed in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA.

Quote, marks can signify direct speech in a text or emphasize the title of works that make up a larger whole, such as chapters in a novel or articles in a newspaper or magazine, or episodes of a television show.

General Usage Rules

Double quotations are used to denote speech in titles of short works such as articles or TV shows. Scare quotes can also be used to show irony or disagreement with a premise. Double quote marks can be used to denote direct speech in America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

A single quotation mark can be used to include a quote in a quotation, a sentence within a headline, or a title within the quote.

The UK allows single or double quotations to mark direct speech. However, both are acceptable.

The quotation mark is a pair of symbols. The text must be enclosed within. To mark the beginning of the direct speech, title or irony, a quote must be opened (i.e., “She walked her dog today,” not “She walked her dog today,’ or “She walked her dog today).

Historical Usage

Historical Usage

In the middle of the 16th century, quotation marks were made from metal to be used for typesetting. Direct speech in the text was previously marked by a font change or simply by indicating who the speaker is. They were widely used in many texts by 1749. At that time, single quotation marks (also called inverted commas) were the most common.


Some editors will add an extra space between single quotation marks and the double quote. “Out of nowhere Tracey told me, ‘I don’t like you anymore,’ ” Mark said this sadly.

Usage with Other Punctuation Marks

American and British styles differ in the way they punctuation rules for quotation marks.

Both American and British punctuation styles use exclamation and question marks to apply to whole sentences. If question marks or exclamation marks only apply to the quoted portion of a sentence (like “How cold is she?” in No, She Said), they are closing quotation marks.

Whether you use single or double quotes, periods and commas generally do not go within the quoted material in British punctuation. E.g., Tracey said that he watered his flowers today. American punctuation style will have the comma inside quotation marks. Tracey stated,

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Smart Quotes or Straight Quotes?

Smart Quotes or Straight Quotes

It is a constant debate between grammarians and writers about whether to use “straight” quotes (two lines of text) or “smart” quotes (curly quotes that look like “inverted commas”) in formal writing.

Many believe that you can use either author’s style as long as your text is consistent with one. If smart or curly quotes are used, ensure that they face in the right direction.

Others believe that smart quotes should only be used as speech, apostrophes, and speech, while straight quotations indicate feet and inches.

Quotes in Other Languages

Quotes in Other Languages

We are most familiar with English quotation marks [“…”], but the punctuation mark to quote is different in different languages.

  • German, Bulgarian, Czech, and Slovak use [„…“]
  • French, Spanish, Italian, and Greek quote with [«…»]
  • Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, and Croatian with [„…”]
  • Traditional Chinese and Japanese use yet another symbol [「…」].

In Programming

double quotation vs single quotation

Quotes are used in computer programming to delimit strings. Single and double quotations are interchangeable in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code. Double quotes are required for XML and XHTML to delimit elements’ attributes.

Single vs Double Quotes in PHP

When delimiting strings in PHP, there is one difference between single and double quotes. When double quotes are used, the string is not used as-is but is scanned for $var or {$var to substitute the variable names by their values. |Double quotes can be used to delimit strings in PHP. The string is not used as it is, but it is scanned for $var and $var to replace variable names with their values.} Single quotes do not allow for such substitution.

Some programmers believe single quotes offer faster performance because of this difference. However, single quotes in PHP don’t provide any performance benefits.

‘Quote’ Versus ‘Quotation’

A common point of confusion is also the difference between “quote” or “quotation“. “Quote,” a verb that refers to repeating something someone has written or said is another example.

Squiggly was cited by Aardvark, for example. “Quotation” can be used to describe the thing you are quoting. For example, “Squiggly’s quote was inspiring.”

Although it is common to use the noun “quote” as a short form of “quotation“, as in “I filled mine with quotes from “The Daily Show,” technically, this is incorrect. It should read, “I filled up my notebook with quotes from ‘The Daily Show.”

Although I think the correct way sounds pretentious, many reference sources have additional entries explaining widespread misuse. You won’t sound ignorant if you use “quote incorrectly.” It is nevertheless important to be aware of the difference.

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Watch more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeOdzA6fy9A&t=86s

FAQs about Single Quotes Vs Double Quotes

FAQs about Single Quotes Vs Double Quotes

Do I use single or double speech marks for block quotations?

To punctuate material that has been separated from the main text by a block quotation, you don’t usually need to use closing and opening quotes. Block quotations can be indented or placed in a smaller font.

Depending on the convention used, the quotations in the block will either have single or double quotes (British and American).

Here are some examples:

  • Imagine Bart’s shock, dear reader, as Emma turned to him contemptuously and asked, “What ‘promise?”
  • “The passing crowd” is a term that was coined in an attitude of indifference. But, for a man with just what Plato calls “universal sympathies” and even for the ordinary citizens of this world, who is more interesting than those who make up “the passing crowd”?

Should I use single or double apostrophes for quotes within quotes?

Priorities: Choose whether to apostrophize the first quotation with a double or single apostrophe.

A quote within a quote should be enclosed in double speech marks if you use single quotation marks. If you use double quotation marks, a quote within a quote should be enclosed in single quotation marks.


  • “When I say ‘immediately,’ I mean sometime before August,” said the manager.
  • ‘Why did she call the man a “traitor”?’


To surround a quote in American English, you should use double quotation marks. You can use single quotation marks or multiple quotation marks in British English.

Check your style guides if you are writing for a publication or company. To surround your first quote with a quote, you can use the opposite type of quotation marks. This is American English English.

Double quotation marks can be used to display sarcasm or to identify words used for their meanings instead of words. In some disciplines, single quotation marks can highlight words that have special meanings in headlines.

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