Quotation Marks Exercise (582)

In each of the following sentences, determine whether quotation marks are required.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The new 3-foot rule is officially called the "Three Feet for Safety Act."
Correct : The new 3-foot rule is officially called the Three Feet for Safety Act.

Names of things should not be enclosed in quotation marks unless they are titles of compositions such as articles, short stories, or songs.

2.
Original: With the "hockey-stick" growth of solar power, there’s now a need to store that energy.
Correct : With the "hockey stick" growth of solar power, there’s now a need to store that energy.

Because "hockey stick" is being used in a nonliteral sense unfamiliar to many readers—the reference is not to sports equipment but to the steep angle of a line on a chart, suggestive of the shape of a hockey stick—quotation marks, known in this usage as scare quotes, should be used to emphasize that the phrase is jargon. (It is then incumbent on readers to make the analogous connection or research the usage.)

3.
Original: Utility companies fear that the combination of solar panels and battery storage could plunge them into a "death spiral" of shrinking revenue.
Correct : Utility companies fear that the combination of solar panels and battery storage could plunge them into a death spiral of shrinking revenue.

The only reason to enclose "death spiral" in quotation marks is if it is a direct quote, and then the person who said or wrote it should be identified.

4.
Original: This is a clear case of "the pot calling the kettle black."
Correct : This is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Clichés should not be closed in quotation marks.

5.
Original: My "friend" was talking about me behind my back all the time.
Correct : My "friend" was talking about me behind my back all the time.

In this sentence, scare quotes are used correctly to indicate that "friend" is being used ironically. (However, scare quotes are redundant to the phrase "so-called.")

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