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Common Quotation Problems

The following common problems all use examples drawn from student papers.
1) Using fragmentary quotations as complete sentences.
By learning the public language people tend to be more confident in public. ". .
.even my parents grew more confident." (p. 172). Richard's mother made an
effort to make friends with her neighbours. As he grew comfortable with his new
identity he found a new home. ". . .in public was a new quiet at home." (p. 172).
N.B. The writer ends a sentence and the quotes that follow are not grammatically complete
enough to stand on their own. There also isn't enough contextual information to explain how the
quote relates to the point the writer is making. One way of correcting the first example would be
like this: "By learning the public language people tend to be more confident in public. Rodriguez
observes that when the family began to use English in the home, "even my parents grew more
confident" (172)."
2) Using quotations that repeat the point you are making.
She felt that speaking her mother's language at home instead of proper English
had an impact on her progress of lack thereof in public English, "I think my
mother's English almost had an affect on limiting my possibilities in life. . ." pg
201.
N.B. This material is also quoted incorrectly ("affect" is obviously incorrect here, it should be
"effect") and the page number is not documented correctly in terms of the MLA style.
3) Over-quoting
Rodriguez is no longer the individual he was when he relinquishes the ability to
express himself to his family. The reader then feels great empathy for
Rodriguez's loss. He however does not desire such empathy. He believes that in
order to gain one must lose. "Ma, Papa, Pa, Dad, Pop (how I hated all American
sound of the last word especially)--all these terms I felt were unsuitable, not
really terms of address for my parents (173)." The loss of his ability to address
his parents is to him less than his gain public individuality. "My awkward
childhood does not prove the necessity of bilingual education. My story discloses
instead an essential myth of childhood--inevitable pain. If I rehearse here the
changes in my private life after my Americanization, it is finally to emphasize the
public gain. The loss implies the gain: the house I returned to each afternoon was
quiet"(175).
N.B. The above paragraph includes more quotation than it does the writer's own words, indicating
that there isn't much analysis taking place.
4) "Drop and Run" quoting. Not explaining the significance of the quote to your reader.
Richard Rodriguez found acceptance through his use of English and gained
confidence which led him to the perception he belonged in society. Public identity,
being a part of the crowd became his new goal. He was willing to attain it
regardless of the cost to him or his family. He points out the ..."Loss implies the

gain:". He describes his childhood home after English became the language of
home. . . .
N.B. Huh? The writer obviously feels that "Loss implies the gain" is in some way related to his or
her argument, but doesn't give us enough of the quotation, or explain enough of the context for
the quote to enable us to see the connection.
5) Fragmentary quoting
The ethnic studies groups that are held by the minorities have tried to catch
attention from White American people by shooting the "poverty conditions of
Navaho or Pine Ridge" (298). This in return, Deloria argues, they were falling into
the "same trap" (302). Just as before, people were mistakenly assuming that
"Indians really [wanted] to live this way" (298).
N.B. There is really little reason for the author to use quotes here at all, since he or she could
make the same points equally well in their own words.
6) Quotation and material that introduces it do not make overall grammatical sense.
Hardin callously dismisses the death of human beings as "overpopulated poor
countries would decrease in numbers."