English 101 & 102
- Quotations must either be complete sentences of their own, or else fit with the grammar of the sentence they are part of.
Quotations should be introduced with tags (brief phrases like the author says or Stafford writes) or with longer, explanatory phrases or clauses that help the reader understand why they are being used.
- Use that to embed a quoted complete sentence in a larger sentence of your own:
Stafford tells us that [h]is hands were clean and thin.
(The lower-case h in [brackets] tells us that it has been substituted for an upper-case H at the start of the original sentence.)
- You can often substitute a comma for that:
Stafford tells us, His hands were clean and thin.
(In this case, with the comma, you keep the original upper-case H.)
- Clauses and phrasesanything less than a complete sentencemust fit with the grammar of the larger sentence:
At this point he goes back to work, which he says has a loving rhythm, and to the unique machine of the fallen barn.
Notice that there is no comma after a or after the. You would not put a comma here if it were not a quotation, so dont put one in when it is a quotation.
- In some cases a colon can be used to indicate that the quotation illustrates the point that comes before it.
Stafford subtly reinforces the comparison with church: Those [extra joists] the farmer had set aside for years of so much hay even this cathedral wasnt ample enough.
(The phrase extra joists is added in [brackets] to give the reader the necessary context. The brackets indicate that it is not part of the original quotation)
- Do not string together multiple quotations in a single sentence. Put each quotation in its own sentence, using tags to make it a complete sentence and explain how it relates to the point that all the quotations are intended to support.
Stafford writes, The afternoon was a long season of history.
Stafford often links his immediate activities to the idea of stories that have happened here before he arrived, as when he writes, The afternoon was a long season of history.
Use [brackets], as in #4 above, to indicate where a word or phrase has been added to the quotation for clarification.
Use [brackets] to indicate where a word has been substituted for the original word in the quotation.
The narrator says that the man went off with [the board] at an awkward march.
Do this rarely, and only to clarify the authors original meaning.
Use an ellipsis (three dots in a row:
) to indicate where something has been left out of the quotation:
Before me loomed the raw, steaming tangle of chaos with a history of order
; behind me, stacks of lumber rose
Do this rarely, and only where the omission does not change the meaning of the original.
Periods and commas go inside the closing quotation mark:
The narrator reminds us that the man is staring at him through reflective shades: My double body was still in his glasses.
If you cite the page number, put it in parentheses after the quotation marks but before the period:
The narrator reminds us that the man is staring at him through reflective shades: My double body was still in his glasses (185).