Single Quotation Marks: Meaning, Examples & Exercise

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Single Quotation Marks

You are most probably aware of quotation marks those double scoops in the air (“ ”), utilised before and after we relay something someone wrote, said or directly. But what about their smaller counterparts, the single quotation marks (‘ ’)? These are punctuation marks used to indicate a quotation within a quotation or to set off certain types of titles or words used in a special sense. These are used less frequently in American English compared to double quotation marks (“), where double quotation marks are typically used for direct speech and quotations. However, in British English, these punctuation marks are more common for these purposes.

What is Single Quotation Marks?

A single quotation mark looks like two apostrophes on either side of a piece of text, for example, Her favourite short story is ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson.’ Moreover, it is also called an apostrophe if it is used alone. Use this punctuation mark for the specific things that were said within that conversation. There are times when people use single quotes to put a little extra emphasis on a word or phrase.

Read more: A Quick Punctuation: Types | Sample Exercise | Answers

17+ Examples of Single Quotation Marks in a Sentence

Below mention are some of examples single quotation marks with their purpose:

She winked and said, ‘See you later.’
Her favourite short story is ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson.’
He quoted Shakespeare, saying, ‘To be or not to be, that is the question.’
The instructions were undefined: ‘Assemble according to the diagram.’
‘Can I help you?’ the restaurant assistant politely inquired.
Her grandfather’s favourite saying was, ‘Good things come to those who wait.’
The headline screamed, ‘Government Announces New Policy!’
She muttered under her breath, ‘This isn’t going well.’
‘Wuthering Heights’ is a classic gothic novel.
Be careful not to confuse ‘affect’ and ‘effect.’
The professor asked, ‘Who can tell me the capital of Germany?’
She sported a ‘Just Ask’ badge on his backpack.
‘Amit, my dear, I don’t give a damn,’ is one of Rhett Butler’s most famous lines.
The recipe calls for a pinch of ‘ground ginger.’ 
The warning sign read: ‘Danger: High Voltage.’
She thought to herself, ‘Maybe I should ask for directions.’
Nicknames are often placed in single quotes, like ‘Lefty’ or ‘Shorty.’
The play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is full of fantastical creatures.
She gave a sarcastic chuckle and said, ‘Sure, that sounds like a great plan.’

Usage of Single Quotation Marks

If you may not see single quotation marks as extensively as double quotation marks in American English, they nonetheless pop up now and then. Below described is where the single quotation is used 

Within a Quotation

The most familiar use of the single quotation mark is when you are quoting someone within a quotation. You have probably seen this format being utilised in various types of books, essays, news stories and interviews. When the internal quote is at the end of the whole quotation, use both single and double quotation marks to complete both quotes. 


1. Amit exclaimed, “Isha was at the store and bumped into Richa. When he saw her, he said, ‘I wish we’d see you at the ball party next Saturday,’ but she didn’t know anything about it!

2.”The news reporter said, “All of the news on the block has burned down. One shop owner screamed, ‘She cannot believe this is happening!’ as the flames engulfed his store.”

In Headings

Within an article headline, utilise single quotation marks in place of the standard double quotation marks. If the headline includes the title of a song, short story, or a quote by someone, use single quotes.


1. ‘She Did it for Her Kids,’ Says Heroic Mom

2. Candidate Promises ‘No More Taxes’

Using Single Quotation Marks within Quotes

The rules for utilising punctuation marks with single quotation marks are similar to double quotation marks: If the punctuation belongs to the quote, it will stay inside the quotation marks.

But when the punctuation belongs to the exterior quote and not the inner quote, it is a different thing. In these circumstances, the punctuation mark belongs outside the single quotation mark, while inside the double quotation mark. 


1. Suddenly Ramesh yelled, “Play ‘Twist and Shout’!”

2. “Who called you ‘Mr. Rachid’?” asked the teacher.
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Q1. For what single quotation marks are used?

Ans: Two kinds of quotation marks are used in the sentences: First, single (‘ ‘) and second double (“ ”). Single Quotation Marks are used to show the dialogue within another quotation. For example: “The boy answered her mother by saying, ‘I don’t want to travel alone. ‘ She appeared to be shivering from the cold”.

Q2. Can single quotation marks be used to emphasize a word?

Ans: Quotation marks near single words can sometimes be used for emphasis, but only when quoting a word or term someone else used. Usually, this means that the author does not agree with the use of the term. She said he was “working”; it looked to me like he was procrastinating. You call this filthy room “clean”?!

Q3. What do you mean by single quotes?

Ans: Single Quotes are written as this (‘ ‘) and used mainly for a quotation within another quotation. 

Hope you understand the concept and know how to proceed. You can also follow the page of Leverage Edu for more exciting and informative blogs on Learn English.

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