How to Use Inverted Commas, Brackets, and Capital Letters

The same is true of the use of inverted commas to denote direct speech. This can be confusing for non-native English speakers because it is common in most other languages to use regular quotation marks. Technically, any punctuation can be used with direct speech – even an exclamation mark or a question mark – but there are benefits of using inverted commas. For example, inverted commas make it clear that the words are those of another person and not the writer’s own opinion.

There is some disagreement over how to punctuate speech within the speech. If someone says “he whispered ‘help me”, should the comma come before or after the quotation marks? Some people argue that because the comma goes inside the inverted commas in a sentence such as “I have to take my son to football practice,” it should also go inside when the punctuation is part of what is being quoted. In other words, they would write “he whispered, ‘help me.” Other people argue that the comma belongs outside the inverted commas because it is a clarification and not part of the quotation. To put it another way, they would write “he whispered ‘help me.”

What are Inverted Commas?

Right, but what are inverted commas and where did they come from? Originally, inverted commas referred to the practice of printing foreign-language words in “scare quotes” instead of italics. Thus we get phrases such as “Auf Wiedersehen,” which appear in English books that date back to at least 1831.

Read also, What is Syntax and How to Use it in a Sentence?

By the way, these scare quotes are really inverted commas. The use of inverted commas to signify irony appears at least as far back as 1841 (“Yahoo”: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mark Twain).

How to Use Inverted Commas?

Inverted commas can often make your sentence look cluttered and unclear. That is why the best way of using them is to place them around any phrases or words that you either don’t want the reader to understand or that you want them to pay extra attention to.

The following is a list of instances in which inverted commas are commonly used:

1. Call me Ishmael” is not his real name.

2. The president said he wouldn’t veto the bill “under any circumstances.” He could change his mind if he wants to.

3. This book is easy to read, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

4. “Can you pick me up at 6 PM?” she asked but I was busy so I refused her request for help.”

There are numerous other examples in which inverted commas can be used as a part of your sentence but, as a rule of thumb, try using them when you want to emphasize a specific word or phrase.

Inverted Commas and Quotations

The use of inverted commas around a certain phrase or a dialogue is fairly common in the English language. In fact, it has been so long since people have been using them that many don’t know how to correctly punctuate their sentences when they involve quotations.

This is why it is crucial that you learn the correct way of using quotation marks in your sentence if you want your message to get across to other people in an effective manner:

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Incorrect: “I couldn’t have said it any better myself”, she told me.

Correct: “I couldn’t have said it any better myself,” she told me.

Incorrect: The patient reportedly said, “Go away! I don’t need a doctor.”

Correct: The patient reportedly said, “Go away! I don’t need a doctor.”

If you want to see if your sentence is correctly punctuated when it involves quotation marks, there are two things that you need to do. First of all, try reading your sentence out loud with the quotation marks in place. If it sounds right, then don’t worry about making any adjustments because the inverted commas are correctly used.

How to Use Brackets and Parenthesis in a Sentence?

Secondly, you can also try replacing the inverted commas with brackets and see if they still make sense. This is because when you use brackets around dialogue or a phrase that is already inside inverted commas, then it doesn’t matter which version of punctuation mark (brackets, parenthesis, or quotation marks) you use.

The most common type of brackets that are used in the English language is square brackets, which are called [ ] in plain text or in HTML.

Alternatively, you can also use round brackets, which look like ( ). If you don’t want to go through all the hassle of using a different punctuation mark around your sentence, then you can simply use parentheses instead of brackets.

Incorrect: “I couldn’t have said it any better myself (she told me).

Correct: “I couldn’t have said it any better myself” (she told me).

Incorrect: The patient reportedly said, “(go away! I don’t need a doctor).”

Correct: The patient reportedly said “go away! I don’t need a doctor.”

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If you want to make your sentence stand out or give added emphasis to certain words, then you can use brackets or parentheses in this manner. You can either place your sentence inside the inverted commas or place it outside of them. Here are some samples of how you can use brackets inside your sentence:

Examples of Using Brackets

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. (She told me.)

My computer crashed this morning and I lost all my saved work! (I have a deadline coming up in a few days!)

Heather said she wanted to “move past the negativity”. (We had been arguing for hours before it happened.)

How to Use Capital Letters in Sentences

Lastly, remember that you must put the complete sentence or phrase in inverted commas inside your brackets. This means that if you only use part of the sentence when you quote someone, then it must be placed with quotation marks instead of bracketed text.

Here are some examples to show how this works:

Incorrect: It was warm today (I went to the beach and nearly melted!).

Correct: It was warm today. (I went to the beach and nearly melted!)

Incorrect: Today I had a “long day”. (My alarm didn’t go off, my boss sent me home for being late and then my car ran out of gas on the way back!)

Correct: Today I had a “long day”. (My alarm didn’t go off, my boss sent me home for being late and then my car ran out of gas on the way back!)

Read also, What are Dialogue Tags and How to Use Them?

When you use brackets around only part of your sentence, the placement is very important. If you place them after your full sentences instead of inside them, then your meaning is changed.

This can even change the entire sentence so that it has a completely different meaning. Here are some more examples:

Incorrect: I couldn’t have said it any better myself “she told me”.

Correct: She told me that she couldn’t have said it any better herself.

Incorrect: The patient reportedly said, “go away! I don’t need a doctor”.

Correct: The patient reportedly said go away! I don’t need a doctor.

When you’re finished, make sure to read through your sentence again before you go on to the next one. This will ensure that you haven’t made any mistakes or forgotten anything. You should also turn off your computer and avoid looking at any distractions, such as books or toys. This way you will be focused on the task at hand.

Final Thought

Using brackets around dialogue or pieces of text is very different in terms of when you use each type of punctuation. This means that if you aren’t sure which one to use, then it’s best to do your research first and make sure that you get it right.

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