I came across an issue when reading Dr Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

As published

(Image via Daily Nutmeg)

And the more the Grinch thought of this Who-Christmas-Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
"Why, for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!
"I MUST stop this Christmas from coming!
                                                                              ... But HOW?"

The writer adds quotation marks to the start of each line in what might be a block quote needing only quote marks once right at the beginning and once at the end.

Can anyone please explain why this is done? Is it a stylistic choice? Or is the writer following some type of rule with the use of punctuation?

  • reading to my grandson of course! Though I do enjoy the classics myself.
    – user313951
    Aug 27, 2018 at 14:50
  • 2
    There's a (not so common, I think) typographic convention for reported speech, whereby if an extended utterance spans multiple paragraphs, there's an "opening" quote mark at the start of each new paragraph, but no closing quote in the preceding paragraph. I think he underlying principle is that we don't want two consecutive quote marks within a continuous utterance by the same speaker (where "consecutive" = "separated only by white space / line feeds"). So even though each line in a poem isn't a "paragraph", it seems to have been applied to your cited text. Aug 27, 2018 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


"In most cases, quotations that span multiple paragraphs should be set as block quotations, and thus do not require quotation marks. Quotation marks are used for multiple-paragraph quotations in some cases, especially in narratives. The convention in English is to give opening quotation marks to the first and each subsequent paragraph, using closing quotation marks only for the final paragraph of the quotation, as in the following example from Pride and Prejudice:..." as quoted from wikipedia

I would have added this as a comment, but the site does not allow me yet.

  • Welcome to ELU. Perhaps you could expand on this by saying how it applies to the passage in the question. Answers should definitely not be merely quotes from other places: we do need some editorial input from you too. The passage in the question doesn't appear to be separate paragraphs.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 27, 2018 at 16:38
  • Andrew Leach, perhaps you can answer the question then. Sep 4, 2018 at 15:22

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