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Embedding Quotes In English Essays – With Examples

english quote studying

Posted On September 23, 2020

What is a quotation, or quote?

Quotations, often abbreviated as ‘quotes’, are the exact repetition of someone else’s words, taken from another source. In VCE English and VCE Literature they are used to provide evidence for a particular argument. They can provide context to what you are saying, an expert opinion or otherwise can demonstrate knowledge of the text. They are an essential component of the VCAA study design for VCE English and VCE Literature and as such, you will need to know their intricacies to score well in these subjects.

Quotation marks, symbolised by single inverted commas ‘___’ or double inverted commas “___”, and are used to surround text that is taken from somewhere else by someone other than the original author. Typically, single inverted commas are preferred in Australia as it follows British convention. However, double inverted commas, as typically used in America, can also be used without penalty. Just make sure to be consistent with the type you choose to use in your essays.

Dos and Don’ts of Quoting in VCE English & Literature Essays

The Dos:
1. Use quotes to show knowledge of your VCE English and Literature texts.

2. Use quotes to show credibility of what you are saying.

3. Spice up your essay with elegant passages using quotes.

4. Use quotes to give an overall stronger impression and improve the perceived quality of your writing skills.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t use irrelevant quotations – these can interfere with flow and confuse readers.

2. Don’t overuse quotations – each quote needs to have a purpose. Having too many quotes can reduce the strength of your arguments.

3. Don’t just use whole paragraphs from someone else’s work. This is plagiarism. 

4. Don’t use broken sentences – make sure quotes flow with the rest of your text. Finish and start quotes with minimal structural interference.

quotations shakespeare

Integrating Quotes Into An Essay Depends On 3 Things:

  • Your quote

  • How much of your quote you want to quote

  • How you plan to fit your quote into your essay

The Implementation of Quote Insertion Is Important

Paragraphs in an essay generally represent separate ideas. These ideas need to be developed by examples and evidence, which can be in the form of quotes. Quotes need to add to your arguments in meaningful ways. They can also help consolidate descriptions by describing:

  • A theme or character

  • An event or setting

  • A symbol of literary technique

Never quote for no reason. Every quote needs to add in some way to your essay- if it does not, it has no place in your essay. In addition, you need to describe each quote that you use. Give context and why it is significant – don’t just leave random quotes in your piece. A well placed quote will strengthen your contention; likewise, a misplaced one can hurt it.

final touches of vce english essay

The amount of a quotation used determines how it is used

Always remember that your essay is built on a foundation of your own architecture, whereas quotes can be used merely as support beams to help you build the upper floors. Be selective with how you use quotes. This will not only reduce the irrelevant quotes that bloat your piece, but will also lessen the amount of quotes you need to remember! A good number to aim for is 3 quotes per paragraph.

Overusing quotes can be a big problem! It creates an incohesive patchwork throughout your essay and can cause you to fail to develop your ideas and thoughts to their furthermost extent.

Single Word Quotations 

He was described as ‘timid’, but he grew out of this with time.

Single word quotations can be a very powerful tool as they give you the most leeway to explore your own ideas and thoughts without external suggestion. They are a great way to please your markers!

Single word quotes can also be used for emphasis, especially when using a word the author doesn’t agree with. This can be used to emphasise the opposite. For instance in the sentence: he was ‘working’;  the author is clearly suggesting that the man is likely not working, or at least not working very hard. 

Phrase Quotations

C.S Lewis once said, ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less’ – a quote that emphasises our often turbulent relationship with our own egos.

Phrase quotations are the most common and easiest to use to demonstrate a description or to help further a point. It is important to describe them and justify their use. A phrase quotation without context will hurt your essay.

writing literature essay

Long Quotations

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.” (George Orwell)

Try to avoid using long quotations in your essays, you’ll likely lose marks. Your essay should be a compilation your ideas and arguments. By using long quotations, you not only waste precious writing time, but you give yourself less room to demonstrate your own ideas and thoughts.

If you wish to use a long quotation then be selective. Take only small parts of the quote and use them precisely. A quote should not be longer than 2 lines on an A4 piece of paper.

Remember that you can use multiple parts of a long quotation and skip between them using ellipses (…). This can be applied to both the start or the end of a quotation sentence to cut it short. For example:

‘… when there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns … to long words and exhausted idioms…’ (George Orwell)

As you can see the quote is the same but some parts have been removed and spliced together. Sometimes the splicing is not perfect as the sentence cannot be neatly stitched back together. In such circumstances, you will need to use square brackets […] to add filler words. For example:

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity…. [presenting itself as] long words and exhausted idioms…” (George Orwell)

Separating Quotes By Theme 

Your ability to use quotes in an essay depends on remembering them. It can be tough to choose which quotes you want to remember. It’s best to choose quotes that are versatile and can be used in a number of different circumstances – these can be considered as the Swiss army knives of the quote world. 

You cannot possibly know what theme you get – but luckily for you, you don’t have to. Try to remember quotes from a number of different themes. Always practice writing on common themes such as love, hate and adversity in your novel – and have quotes to back up your views.

Don’t stress too much. If you’re not able to answer a particular question effectively it’s not the end of the world. Essays generally allow you 2-3 different topics to choose from, so there’ll almost always be something you have studied in detail in your preparation.

Written by Vic
Melbourne based Private Tutor, Writer and Business Owner with a passion for teaching and helping students succeed in their academic endevours.
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