Scare Quotes Exercise (744)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: She runs the classroom like it’s a "well-oiled machine."
Correct : She runs the classroom like it’s a well-oiled machine.

Figurative turns of phrase do not need to be enclosed in quotation marks.

2.
Original: They subsequently agreed to communicate using the social media app "Kik."
Correct : They subsequently agreed to communicate using the social media app Kik.

Names of computer programs and digital applications need no emphasis.

3.
Original: If he causes another "incident" like that, he’s going to get himself fired.
Correct : If he causes another "incident" like that, he’s going to get himself fired.

Here, "incident" is properly emphasized with quotation marks to indicate that the word is an inappropriate euphemism that deceptively downplays the impact of the event.

4.
Original: The "prize" was a cheap plastic trophy.
Correct : The "prize" was a cheap plastic trophy.

"Prize" is correctly emphasized to show that it is a poor description for the item.

5.
Original: Linguists sometimes employ a technique they call "inverted reconstruction."
Correct : Linguists sometimes employ a technique they call inverted reconstruction.

Quotation marks are unnecessary when introducing a term; the sentence itself is sufficient to indicate that the word or phrase in question is a term employed by others and is not the writer’s coinage.

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