Scare Quotes Exercise (625)

In each sentence, determine whether quotation marks are required or recommended around a word or phrase for clarification.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "The Tipping Point," first identified the concept of "stickiness."
Correct : Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "The Tipping Point," first identified the concept of stickiness.

An introduced concept need not be highlighted on first or subsequent references by being enclosed in quotation marks, even if the usage is not literal.

2.
Original: Some say this is "outside the box" thinking.
Correct : Some say this is outside-the-box thinking.

It is not necessary to call out the use of idioms with quotation marks, but do hyphenate them when they are used as phrasal adjectives, as here.

3.
Original: I suspect your problems "come with the territory" of being married to a minister.
Correct : I suspect your problems come with the territory of being married to a minister.

"Come with the territory," though used figuratively here, is clear in meaning and does not require quotation marks.

4.
Original: There is a formal "charge" and role, including clear authority, boundaries, and accountability.
Correct : There is a formal "charge" and role, including clear authority, boundaries, and accountability.

Retention of the scare quotes for this unusual sense of "charge," meaning "responsibility," is recommended but not required.

5.
Original: Does the plan communicate a "through line" or a plausible story about how spending money in the way outlined will produce the results we want?
Correct : Does the plan communicate a through line or a plausible story about how spending money in the way outlined will produce the results we want?

"Through line," though not literal, is a widely understood phrase for a concept and needs no emphasis.

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