|Photo credit: interpunct on Flickr|
In this case, I’m not talking about using quotation marks for titles or to directly quote someone or something (which is entirely correct, and I imagine most of you know how to do that). Instead, I’m debunking a quotation mark myth.
There’s a common misconception about quotation marks that they can be used to emphasize something with a sort of air quote usage. I’ve often seen signs for “fresh” food or a “great” service, but you’re actually shooting yourself in the foot when you try to use quotations for emphasis.
Because the truth is, quotation marks outside of dialogue aren’t used for emphasis—they’re used to indicate something isn’t really whatever is within the quotation marks, that is, to denote sarcasm. So for example…
That “fresh” food isn’t actually fresh.
That “great” service is probably pretty terrible.
That “cheese” sandwich might not actually be edible.
Some other examples...
|Photo credit: Brett Jordan on Flickr|
|Photo credit: The Letter E on Flickr|
I gotcha. *wink wink*
|Photo credit: alexliivet on Flickr|
And I am now very "hungry."
|Photo credit: hodgers on Flickr|
Yeah...I don't even know what to do with that.
Don’t believe me? Check out this great (and more comprehensive) post from The Write Practice.
Repeat after me: quotation marks should not be used for emphasis, unless you want to be the subject of much snark and ire. Unless you’re trying to be snarky, in which case, air quote away.
What grammatical technicalities do you tend to trip up on?
Do you use quotation marks for emphasis? You may be using them incorrectly, and here's why. (Click to tweet)
Writer @Ava_Jae debunks a common misconception on quotation marks—with fun pictures. (Click to tweet)