Language and Linguistics

Single quotes characteristics types and examples

Single quotes

Single quotation marks (´… ´)  are spelling signs that are used at the beginning and end of a word or text and serve several functions. Among its main functions is to signify that what appears among them is a verbatim quote from what was said or written by someone else. Single quotes characteristics types

Now, single quotes belong to a group of spelling signs called double signs. Such a denomination comes from the fact that they are used in pairs. One of the two elements “opens” and the other “closes” to frame the text or word that you want to differentiate from the rest of the writing.

Like all types of double signs, single quotes can also be used, among other uses, to denote an improper, vulgar, ironic word or expression, or a term from another language. The expression “Lately he’s only doing his ‘business’” exemplifies one of these uses mentioned.

As for the format, the single quotes are written at the top and glued to the first and last word of the expression to be quoted.

They must be separated with a blank space from the words or signs that precede or follow them. In the case where what follows is a punctuation mark, no space is left between the two.

Characteristics of single quotes


The single quotes come from an old angle sign. This sign is known by the name of diple (<>). The diple dates from the 16th century and was used in order to make margin notes of the writings to draw attention to a part of the text. Single quotes characteristics types

Delimiter sign

Single quotes introduce and delimit a second speech. This second discourse is inserted into the first with a purpose defined by the author and fulfills the purpose of enriching the writing.

Geographical scope

Depending on the language, alphabet, or particular region where quotation marks are used, employment preferences may exist. Single quotes, for example, are more widely used in the UK than in other countries.

IT field

On computer keyboards, the sign for single quotes is found on the apostrophe key. This key is shared by the question mark. This layout of the keys is inherited from old typewriters.


In addition to single quotes, these types of signs can also be chevrons or double quotes. All of them have basically the same function but different rules of use.

Angular, Latin, Spanish, or French quotation marks

Latin quotation marks are represented by the double typographic sign «». Despite being considered typical of the Spanish language, they are not as widely used in Hispanic American texts. Its use is more frequent in European writings.

Double or English quotes

Double or English quotation marks consist of two oblique lines, in the shape of a hook, which are written at the beginning and at the end of the part of the text that you want to highlight. Its typographic representation is “” “”.

Single quotes

In the case of the simple ones, these are differentiated by being simple oblique lines arranged at the top of the ends of the expression in quotation marks. Typographically they are represented as follows: ”.

Uses and examples


In the order of precedence of use, single quotes are third and last. For this reason, they are also known as third-level quotation marks. Single quotes characteristics types

According to the RAE rules, when quotation marks, the Spanish or angular ones must be used as the first option. As a second option, double or English quotes are preferred.

Appointment within another appointment

The most common use of single quotes is when you are quoting someone within a quote. This format is very common in a wide variety of documents, including books, interviews, and newspaper articles.

For example: I heard José say “Juan went to the store and ran into Alejandra. When he saw her, he said, ‘I hope we’ll see you at the party next Friday.’

Quote within a title

In cases where a title or heading includes a citation, single quotes are used for that second piece of information in place of italics. In general, this format is used when the headline refers to someone’s opinion.

Examples of this use can be found in headlines such as Protesters chanted ‘No more high taxes!’ The president says ‘Don’t worry America’ or also  headlines like Heroic Mother says ‘I did it for my children’ .

Specialized words

Similarly, in the cases of specialized words belonging to specific disciplines, the use of single quotes is very common. For example, in philosophy and theology, you can see these cases in words like ‘ a priori ‘, ‘ encouragement ‘ and ‘ libertas ‘.

Clarification of meanings

When the meaning of a word is clarified, it should be enclosed in single quotes. The following example categorically illustrates the rule: “Spying” (“stalking”) does not mean the same as “atoning for” faults .

In the same way this other example illustrates the meaning of the rule: The word ‘family’ means ‘of the family’.

Frame meanings

On the other hand, single quotes are used to frame meanings in works of a linguistic nature.

The following example sufficiently clarifies the application of this rule: The word beekeeping is formed from the Latin terms apis ‘bee’ and culture ‘cultivation, breeding’.

Combination with other signs

Punctuation marks that correspond to quoted text are always placed after the closing quotation mark. For example, this is seen in expressions like: S us words were: ‘I will not , ‘ but at the end helped us or you really never has said’hasta ‘? Single quotes characteristics types

On the other hand, it must be taken into account that the texts that go inside the quotation marks have an independent punctuation. These carry their own spelling signs.

Consequently, if the statement in quotation marks is interrogative or exclamatory, the question marks and exclamation marks must be written within the quotation marks.

The expression “He asked the janitor: ‘Where are the toilets, please?’ is an example of what was said in the previous paragraph. In the same way it is: ‘I am looking forward to the holidays!’, He exclaimed.

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