I am writing a review of a French film named Les Choristes. I want to describe the troubled children in the film in this way "Those students are experts at defying teachers, they are the inventors of opposition to teachers, and they are graduates in paltering with teachers." Do I need to use quotation marks for "experts/inventors/graduates" since they are not real experts, inventors and graduates, but ironic expressions. Some say that the ironic meaning can be known in this context. There's no need to add the marks. What's your opinion?


The quotes are not necessary. You would use quotes when your are quoting someone else. Since all of the text in the sentence is your own creation, it doesn't need any quoting.

If you are worried that the reader might not realise that you are being ironic, you should reword your text to make that more clear, but quoting words is not the way to do this.

If you did want to make it more clear that you do not believe they are experts etc, perhaps you could say something like

"In their minds, those students are experts at defying teachers ..."


"In the stories they tell, those students ..."



I think you are trying to understand why people use quotes on single words in written English to convey irony or sarcasm, and when to use them effectively.

In this sentence:

Those students are experts at defying teachers

"experts" means they are naturally gifted at doing something we all understand young people are gifted at, namely defiance. However

Those students are "experts" at defying teachers...

means about the same thing as "they are so-called experts", with irony, that is to say, "they think they are experts, but are not". You should use quotes like this sparingly, as in

The "experts" actually suggest I should not discipline defiant students.

Of course, relying on quotes to convey irony is dangerous, as your reader may just be confused, since you are now being ironic when you really didn't mean to. Using so-called experts (sans quotes) is clearer.

Incidentally, your sentence is saying the same thing three times, with the same irony. So it's a little on the repetitive side. I suggest omitting the repeated subject, verb and object in the repetitions, e.g.:

Those students are experts at defiance, inventors of opposition, and graduates in paltering with teachers.

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