English in Use/Quotations

The quotation points distinguish words that are exhibited as those of an other author or speaker. A quotation within a quotation, is usually marked with single points; which, when both are employed, are placed within the others: as,

  • "And again he said, 'Rejoice, you gentiles, with his people.'"—Rom., xv, 10.

English Quotations


In English quotations and direct speech is donated using quotation marks:

  • " is used as an opening quotation mark,
  • " is also used as a closing quotation mark.

Converting direct speech follows a pattern in English which may differ to reported speech in other languages. This pattern concerns statements (there are different rules for imperatives and questions).

Tense Changes
Direct Speech Reported Speech
"I am from England" He said he was from England
"I am going to Italy" He said he was going to Italy
"I have read it" He said he had read it.

Note that when converting from direct speech to indirect speech you usually have to move the tense backwards:

Tense Changes
Direct Speech Reported Speech
Present Simple Past Simple
Present Perfect Past Perfect
Past Simple Past Perfect or Past Simple
Will + Infinitive Would + Infinitive
Be + Going to Was/Were + Going to

Similarly there are some changes to be made to other words in the sentence. Because we are reporting what someone said in the past we must use other words to talk about the past, e.g. "today" becomes "that day", "here" becomes "there", "next week" becomes "the following week" and "last week" becomes "the previous week". There are other similar changes too.

"I am here" Reported Speech
"I am from England" He said he was there
"I will return next week" He said he would return the following week
"I have worked here since last week" He said he had worked there since the previous week