My friend Matt says that when he gets up in the morning, the first thing he does is to reach his hands skyward, extend to first and second fingers on each hand, and produce two synchronized rapid curling motions with these fingers.

In so doing, everything else he does that day is “in quotes.”

Have you ever noticed how often quotations are used incorrectly, and don’t you “find” this totally “annoying?”

The main problem, of course, is that people “think” quotes are for “emphasis” … when they are really for the exact opposite. Something that you put in quotes (that is not a, well, an actual quote) is something that you don’t really believe. So, the following is correct:

Intelligent design is a “theory” about evolution. Well, not really.

An incorrect use of quotes would be as in the following hypothetical sign in front of a resturant:

Come on in and try our “delicious” “food”

So, well, go have some “fun” at “The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks


  1. #2 Stephanie Z
    April 27, 2008

    Must look away before brain catches fire.

    You are not a nice man.

  2. #3 stephenk
    April 27, 2008

    That’s just silly…

    Matt should do it with one hand only in the morning then the other hand at night when goes to bed, thus enclosing the whole day in quote marks.

    That would be much more sensible.

    What he does now only captures those first few bed minutes.

  3. #4 Greg Laden
    April 27, 2008

    Who, “me”?

  4. #5 Rin
    April 27, 2008

    Yup, I had the same thought as stephenk.

    And here’s another repository of inappropriately used quotation marks: http://www.juvalamu.com/qmarks/

  5. #6 HennepinCountyLawyer
    April 27, 2008

    My favorite was the sign that said”

    Sorry, we are “not” permitted to accept personal checks.

    This obviously means there’s a rule against taking checks but it’s generally ignored. (Which is not, of course, what the person posting that particular sign intended.)

  6. #7 Hank Roberts
    April 28, 2008

    “ephasis” [sic]

  7. #8 NJ
    April 28, 2008

    I recall reading somewhere that for a certain segment of the population, placing words in quotes (as above and at the Websites linked in comments) is actually an attempt at emphasis.

    So in this context, writing that ‘Greg is a “good” blogger’ is like writing ‘Greg is a good blogger’ or ‘Greg is a good blogger’.

  8. #9 uncle noel
    April 28, 2008

    People think explaining that quotes are not correctly used for emphasis is just as pedantic as explaining that caterpillars aren’t worms, chimps aren’t monkeys, etc. How ’bout this for pedantry: “Quote,unquote” is actually a malapropism for “quote, endquotes” – the latter word being the correct one for… oh, never mind.

  9. #10 Virgil Samms
    April 28, 2008

    The BBC is crazy for quotation marks. Current headlines at BBC News:
    Hundreds of Iraq schemes ‘failed’
    Austrian ‘admits daughter abuse’
    Gene therapy ‘aids youth’s sight’
    ‘Dozens die’ in China train crash
    UN troops ‘armed DR Congo rebels’
    Chocolate ‘may cut diabetes risk’
    Pregnancy cravings ‘on the rise’

  10. #11 Greg Laden
    April 28, 2008

    “Quote,unquote” is actually a malapropism for “quote, endquotes” – the latter word being the correct one for… oh, never mind.

    Nobody ever gets my jokes.

  11. #12 uncle noel
    April 28, 2008

    So I’ve heard!