How to use quotation marks…. in spoken English!

  • 2015.12.04

There are some limited occasions where quotation marks can be used in spoken English. Knowing how they are used can help you better understand the speaker’s thoughts and feelings. Also, knowing how to use them yourself is important in order to avoid offending other people.

If the speaker is describing something they have heard or read that they do not believe or agree with, they might highlight the information by making quotation marks in the air with their fingers as they say it.

They do this to show that they are using someone else’s words similar to the use of direct speech in writing e.g. John said, “The weather has got very cold.” There is, however, one major difference between using quotation marks in writing and in speech. Whenever a speaker puts a word or phrase in quotation marks, they are always showing they do not truly believe the words. This meaning is special to spoken English only. In writing, any feelings toward the words in the quotation marks are expressed in the sentence written before and after.

So, it’s easy to see how knowing this can help you understand the speaker’s feelings, especially when you are watching English-language movies or TV shows. However, I will offer one word of caution before you use it yourself. Be sure you select the correct word to finger quote. Remember it shows others that you don’t actually believe what you are saying, so naturally they should not believe you either. Have a look at this clip of the 90’s sitcom Friends, in which Joey confesses that he doesn’t know how to use these finger quotes correctly… then makes Ross even angrier. As you watch, please note their intonation during the conversation and how it matches the use of quotations. It is an important part of using quotations effectively in spoken English.

I hope this will help you in the future!



★Quotation marks: その名の通り、クオーテーションマーク(“”)ということですが、文面と口語で用いられるときでは意味が変わってきます。 日常英会話の中で、または海外ドラマや映画で見かけたことのある人も多いのでは?

★Offend: 怒らせる、傷つける等の意味です。ここでは、Avoidと繋げて「人を傷つけないように」と訳せます。Avoidのあとは~ingのかたちになるのも覚えておきましょう!

★Sitcom: シチュエーションコメディが省略されシットコムと言われています。海外ドラマの、あのよく観客の笑い声の入ったドラマのことです。ラブコメや、ちょっと笑えるホームドラマなど、色々なシットコムがあります!リンクされている動画の“フレンズ”は、アメリカのとても有名なシットコムですね。