Scare Quotes Exercise (660)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Everyone has differences or variations in their genes or DNA, called "pathogenic" variants, that are passed down from generation to generation.
Correct : Everyone has differences or variations in their genes or DNA, called pathogenic variants, that are passed down from generation to generation.

Neither "pathogenic" nor "pathogenic variants" needs quotation mark to be introduced as a term; "called" serves that introductory function.

2.
Original: The notion of "the survival of the fittest" is widely misunderstood.
Correct : The notion of "the survival of the fittest" is widely misunderstood.

In this case, the phrase in quotation marks is correctly formatted to identify it as a specific term under scrutiny.

3.
Original: Doing so will help him overcome perceived "faults" in his efforts.
Correct : Doing so will help him overcome perceived faults in his efforts.

The fact that the faults may not in fact be faults is expressed with the term "perceived," so the scare quotes are redundant to that term.

4.
Original: Take time to walk through the chart, showing the "flow."
Correct : Take time to walk through the chart, showing the flow.

"Flow" is not being used literally, but the meaning is understood, so quotation marks are not necessary.

5.
Original: This allowed her to step out of her "comfort zone."
Correct : This allowed her to step out of her comfort zone.

As in the previous example, the term in quotation marks is figurative, but the meaning is clear.

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