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13.15: Fitting a Quotation into a Sentence

  • Page ID
    127361
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    To use a quotation in our own writing, we need to fit it into a sentence of our own.  There are several ways to work a quotation in so that it flows smoothly and fits logically and grammatically with our own words. Let's say we want to integrate the following opening sentence from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, as an example:

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

    Below are three methods for bringing this quotation into a sentence.

    Seamless Integration Method

    Embed the quoted words, either a phrase or a whole sentence, as if they were an organic part of your sentence.  With this method, if you read the sentence aloud, your listeners would not know there was a quotation. With this method, no additional punctuation is added before the quote. Here is an example:

    Charles Dickens begins his novel with the paradoxical observation that the eighteenth century was both “the best of times” and “the worst of times” [1].

    Signal Phrase Method

    Use a signal phrase (author + verb) to introduce the quotation, clearly indicating that the quotation comes from a specific source.  See 12.5: Quoting and Paraphrasing for more on choosing signal phrases.  Use a comma after the signal phrase and before the quotation, as in the example below:

    Describing the eighteenth century, Charles Dickens observes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” [1].

    If you use the word that with your signal phrase in the pattern (author + verb + that), however, omit the comma and do not capitalize the first word in the quote, as in this version:

    Describing the eighteenth century, Charles Dickens observes that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” [1].

    Colon Method 

    If your own introductory words form a complete sentence, you can use a colon to introduce and set off the quotation. This can give the quotation added emphasis.

    Dickens defines the eighteenth century as a time of paradox: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” [1].

    Attributions

    Adapted by Anna Mills from "Appendix C: Integrating Source Evidence into Your Writing" by Suzan Last and Candice Neveu in Technical Writing Essentials, provided by BCcampus, licensed CC BY 4.0.


    13.15: Fitting a Quotation into a Sentence is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.