I don’t know whether to blame the Internet for something I’ve been seeing more of lately: the use of single quotation marks (‘) where double quotes (“) should be used.

Many issues related to punctuation are a matter of style, syntax, or personal preference. But the rules on quotation marks are pretty clear-cut.

When you’re quoting someone or something else within a sentence or a paragraph, you should use double quotation marks. Jenny said, “That Scott Flood can sure be anal when it comes to matters like punctuation.” You use single quotation marks when your quote includes another quote. “Bill agreed with Jenny’s contention that ‘Scott Flood can sure be anal,’ but added that he believed it was because Scott was usually correct.” (The English do it differently, but what do they really know about English?)

Double quotes are also used when you want to call attention to a single word or short phrase, usually in derisive fashion. I told Madeline that her casserole was “just delicious” before I ran to the other room to spit it out. Jerry is one “talented” bassoon player.