In English, we have double quotation marks (") and single quotation marks ('). Spanish adds angular quotation marks (« »). What is the official rule for which type of mark should be used when in Spanish? What about in everyday use, when do people tend to use each?

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Here's a summary of what the RAE says about the different types of quotation marks in Spanish (see comillas):

The most usual types of quotation marks in Spanish are angular quotation marks (« »), double quotation marks (“ ”) and single quotation marks (‘ ’). Double and single quotation marks are written in the upper part of the line, and the angular quotation marks should be centered.

The quotation marks are written immediately before the first word and immediately after the last words of the phrase they mark, without leaving extra spaces, and leaving a space to separate them from the word or symbol that precedes or follows them; as an exception, if what comes after the closing quotation mark is a punctuation symbol, no space should be left between the mark and the punctuation sign.

In written texts, it is recommended to use first the angular marks, saving the other types to be used to mark part of a text that has already been quoted. If this is the case, the single marks should be used in the last place.

Here's an example of a sentence requiring the use of the three types of quotation marks:

«Antonio me dijo: “Vaya ‘cacharro’ que se ha comprado Julián”».

In dialogue it is a common practice to to omit quotation marks, replacing them with an initial dash.

Up to here, what the RAE says. In practice, however, most people tend to use the double quotation marks at the first level instead of the suggested angular marks.

  • I guess we use double quotation marks instead of angular ones because they're easier to write.
    – MikMik
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 9:55
  • 1
    I would add than ending angular quotation can be used alone as an introductory symbol for dialogues or for paragraphs of extended quotes. It is not common but it is correct usage.
    – Envite
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 21:35

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