Understanding the Difference: Apostrophes vs Quotation Marks

Apostrophes vs Quotation Marks: Clarifying Grammar Personal Development

If you want your audience to trust you as a genuine source of information, you need to write in the way that makes them feel that way. One of the ways you can do this is by using apostrophes and quotation marks correctly.

However, it’s easy to confuse the two punctuation marks. To avoid confusion, learn what each mark represents and how to use them appropriately.

The Basics of Apostrophes: Usage and Common Mistakes

The apostrophe is an important punctuation mark used to form contractions and indicate missing letters and words. It also works to establish ownership and create possessives. It is important to understand how and when to use the apostrophe, as incorrect usage can make it look like a missing letter or even a whole word. The apostrophe can also be mistaken for a period, a comma, or a question mark—which is why it is often mistyped in word processors and other digital tools, especially at the beginning of a contraction.

Students frequently misuse apostrophes to form contractions and show possession. For example, a student may write “it’s” instead of “it’s”. It is important for students to learn that apostrophes should never be used with regular nouns to indicate possesion. This includes pronouns, such as hers, his, yours, and theirs.

Another common mistake occurs when apostrophes are used to form plural nouns. It is always appropriate to add an’s’ after singular nouns that do not end in’s’ or in definite articles, but it is never acceptable to use an apostrophe to form a plural noun containing a’s’ that is already a part of the noun, such as “the king’s book.”

Apostrophes can also be used to form compound nouns and to create possessives, such as Karen’s and Bill’s. However, if the nouns are identical, an apostrophe should be added only to the second noun, since adding an additional’s’ would result in a pronunciation that is not correct (i.e., scissors’s becomes scissor’s). Apostrophes can also be used in the declension of certain foreign names to separate a consonant from a vowel ending, such as Monet’s and Bordeaux’hon.

Quotation Marks: Rules for Accurate Application

The rules for using quotation marks vary slightly by style guide, but there is consensus on some key points. For example, it is generally agreed that quotation marks are used to set off and represent exact words or phrases that come from someone else’s writing. In addition, they are often used to indicate speech within a story.

Depending on the context, they can also be used to emphasize the meaning of a word or phrase. This is commonly done in dialogue between characters, but can also be applied to names and titles of works such as books, movies, TV shows, songs, or shorter pieces like short stories and poems.

It is important to note that quotation marks should be used with caution, particularly when they are used to emphasize a word or phrase. If you overuse them, your readers may become confused and doubt the legitimacy of the word or phrase you are highlighting. This can be a major problem in scientific writing where it is often necessary to use precise language and avoid ambiguity.

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Another common mistake that can be made is mixing straight and curly quotation marks. Straight quotes (‘) are the default form of the punctuation mark on most keyboards and text input applications, while curly quotation marks (‘) are used in published writing and should match your typeface.

It is also essential to remember that punctuation marks should not be placed inside or outside of quotation marks. For example, sentence-ending periods and commas should be placed within the quotes, while semicolons, dashes, colons, and question marks go outside. Additionally, apostrophes should never be used to make words plural or create contractions (he will becomes he’ll; can’t becomes can’t). The proper use of these punctuation marks can improve the clarity and meaning of your writing.

The difference between apostrophes and quotation marks may seem obvious at a glance, but the rules surrounding their use are complex. Mastering these punctuation marks can polish your writing and enhance clarity of meaning.

Apostrophes indicate possession, contractions, and omissions of letters – for example, “he’ll” becomes “he’s,” “do not” becomes “don’t,” and “it is” becomes “it’s.” It also can stand in for missing letters when the word would be confusing without it (for instance, “mind your p’s and q’s” becomes “mind your p’s and g’s”).

However, apostrophes aren’t used to mark plural nouns. For a plural noun, you need’s (‘s’ is the standard form of the letter in English).

Quotation marks, also known as parentheses, are used to highlight text. They are ideal for quoting speech, indicating speech in written form, and pointing out titles of works. These punctuation marks act like a spotlight, drawing attention to specific words and phrases, so it’s essential to understand how to use them correctly.

The confusion between apostrophes and quotation marks is compounded by the fact that some software applications and traditional mechanical keyboards do not differentiate between ‘apostrophe’ (U+02BC) and “right single quotation mark” (U+2019). This can result in apostrophes being used inside or around words and in contractions, even though they are technically incorrect. It is recommended that you use the right single quotation mark for apostrophes, as described in Unicode’s recommendations. This is especially important when typing in indigenous languages or other written systems that differ from a dominant Western writing system.

Apostrophes in Contractions and Possessives: A Closer Look

The apostrophe is involved in the formation of contractions and possessives, two of the most common punctuation uses. The apostrophe can create possessive words by adding s to singular nouns that already end in s, or it can replace the final s in plural nouns that do not end with s (adding an s to john’s or m’s). However, some writers and editors recommend dropping the final s on words with several syllables but not on short ones.

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Proper nouns and names of places and companies often have an apostrophe at the end to indicate ownership. Some of them can be spelled either way, but you should use the form that matches your company’s name or other official designation. You should also use the correct form of the noun in a title. For example, the official title of a university should be spelled the same as it appears in the seal or flag of the school.

When forming possessive pronouns, you should avoid using an apostrophe when the word is not a contraction. Some common examples include its and it’s, your and you’re, their and theirs, and who’s and who’s.

Another place where many people make mistakes involving the apostrophe is in forming contractions. Contractions are shortened forms of words that contain an apostrophe to show where letters have been omitted. He will becomes he’ll, are not becomes aren’t, and would have become would’ve. The apostrophe in contractions is placed in the position of the missing letters, as shown here. You should only use an apostrophe in contractions when it is necessary to clarify the meaning or to prevent confusion (mind your p’s and q’s). Otherwise, avoid using it to make a contraction.

Quotation Marks in Dialogue and Citations: Best Practices

There are many ways to use quotation marks, and they have different uses for various forms of writing. They are common in fiction to show dialogue between characters, while nonfiction articles may use them to transcribe speech from eyewitnesses or interviews. They can also be used to draw attention to words or phrases that you want to emphasize in your writing, such as irony or sarcasm.

The first rule is to place quotation marks around a quote that you are directly quoting from someone else. This means that you should try to use their exact words, punctuation, and capitalization. This is particularly important if they are famous or well-known, as it will help to give credibility to their words and ideas.

Other times, you will need to use quotation marks when quoting from your own writing or paraphrasing someone else’s words. It is important to remember that you should still try to keep the wording and style as close to the original as possible. If you are not sure whether something should be quoted, you can ask the person who said it or consult a style guide to see if it is considered quote material.

In North American printing, periods and commas always go inside closing quotation marks, regardless of what is being quoted. However, semicolons and colons often go outside of quotation marks if they are not part of the quoted material. Similarly, question marks and exclamation points go inside if they are part of the quotation, and outside if they are not. Other forms of terminal punctuation, such as em dashes and trailing speech, are also treated differently. This is usually a matter of house style, or you can consult a style guide.

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