quotes within quotes: British and U.S. styles

For quotes within quotes, the Americans use single quotation marks and the British use double quotation marks. Periods and commas are also opposite: inside the closing quotation mark in American style, and outside the closing quotation mark in British style.

American style:

“When I told Henry that his behavior was unacceptable, he calmly replied, ‘You have no right to judge me.'”

British style (the opposite):

‘When I told Henry that his behavior was unacceptable, he calmly replied, “You have no right to judge me”‘.

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About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
This entry was posted in punctuation. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to quotes within quotes: British and U.S. styles

  1. someone says:

    The other day i came across i sentence – ‘The exchange swung 400 points amidst a volatile trading day’ . Somehow, using ‘amidst’that way seemed wrong. I always thought ‘amidst’ ought to be used with a plural, as in ‘amidst trades’, rather than ‘amidst a day’. Or am i confusing ‘amidst’ with ‘among’?

  2. 123clear says:

    Interesting point. You prompted me to write a separate post for amidst/amid/among. Check it out on my blog, under the “word usage” category.

    I want to use this space to comment on the curious use of quotation marks above.

    Standard American usage would have it like this:

    “The exchange swung 400 points amidst a volatile trading day.”

    British usage would be:
    ‘The exchange swung 400 points amidst a volatile trading day’.

    [Note that American English places periods and commas inside quotation marks, and British English places them outside quotation marks.]

    British and American English also differ in the use of quotations for special terms:

    British:
    ‘amidst’, ‘among’.

    American:
    “amidst,” “among.”

    Key point: strive for consistency.

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