Scare Quotes Exercise (699)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: She can push through the "roadblocks" that often happen during the creative process.
Correct : She can push through the roadblocks that often happen during the creative process.

No literal traffic obstacles exist, but the common use of the noun to refer to figurative obstructions makes the reference obvious.

2.
Original: It said that educational inequity is due not to any social or economic factors but to the government "monopoly" on public schools.
Correct : It said that educational inequity is due not to any social or economic factors but to the government monopoly on public schools.

Government oversight of public schools is not literally a monopoly, but the reference is clear, so quotation marks are unnecessary.

3.
Original: The film is a relentless attack on "slacktivism" and otherwise well-intentioned but sometimes not-so-well-researched movements for change.
Correct : The film is a relentless attack on "slacktivism" and otherwise well-intentioned but sometimes not-so-well-researched movements for change.

Considering that this slang term is not widely known, scare quotes are appropriate to signal that the use of the term is not an error.

4.
Original: Consider the glass "half full and not half empty."
Correct : Consider the glass half full and not half empty.

An indirect reference to an expression should not use quotation marks to frame the reference. (Compare with a direct reference: "He condensed the saying ‘The pot calling the kettle black’ into ‘Pot, meet kettle.’")

5.
Original: The IQ evaluation provides a "snapshot" of a child’s cognitive skills at a particular point in time.
Correct : The IQ evaluation provides a snapshot of a child’s cognitive skills at a particular point in time.

"Snapshot" is clearly used figuratively here, so quotation marks are superfluous.

Related Articles

Subscribe to our articles and exercises