5

It's my brother's first year studying English and the book they use at school has sentences like:

A is for Animal

B is for Beast

C is for Continent

D is for Den

and so on.

Shouldn't we use " " (or ' ') when we refer to a single letter inside a sentence? For example:

The letter "A" is the first letter in the alphabet.

or

The letter 'A' is the first letter in the alphabet.

Are there any cases when we should simply write an "A" alone?

2
  • Might be a question for Writing Stack Exchange. But this is more style than substance.
    – SrJoven
    Nov 13, 2014 at 21:48
  • 1
    Mind your p's and q's. Mind your 'p's and 'q's.
    – GEdgar
    Feb 12, 2020 at 19:12

3 Answers 3

3

It's a matter of style. UK English tends to use single quotes whereas US tends to use double quotes. There's no additional rule for individual characters.

I don't think it's essential to use quotation marks when indicating an individual letter, but it may help for clarity. It helps when distinguishing between single-letter words and single letters, for example.

1

In MLA Format, the only letters that require a distinction to be made are "I" and "A," since they are words as well as letters. To my knowledge, listing the alphabet generally would look like this: "A," B, C, D, etc. I have also heard of italics and single quotes, as long as the distinction is evident. In general, words as words require quotes as well; letters, on the other hand, do not. The idea is that a capital D will never occur unless it is used as a letter, since it is not a word itself.

1

The Chicago Manual of Style states individual and combinations of letters within text should be italicized. However, letters indicating scholastic achievement are to be in roman type and usually capitalized (rule 6.82, 14th edition). freelance editor, B. Keith Williams

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.