Direct and Indirect Quotations

When do you use quotation marks?

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

Direct and Indirect Quotations

When should you put single words such as yes and no in quotation marks?

It depends on whether you're quoting exactly what someone said (a direct quotation) or talking about what someone said or might say (an indirect quotation).

If you are directly quoting someone, put the word in quotation marks:

  • Sarah smiled and said, "Yes."
  • I looked up from my desk and said, "No, you can't have a cookie."

If you are indirectly quoting someone, don't put the word in quotation marks:

  • He wondered whether Sarah would say yes.
  • I looked up from my desk and told him no, he couldn't have a cookie.

 Related Articles

Single Quotation Marks Versus Double Quotation Marks
Quotation Marks with Periods and Commas

Examples Using Sentences from Odysseus

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.