How to Quote Parts of a Sentence (Ellipses or Not?)

Knowing how to properly quote people is one of the most important skills in writing that anyone who is learning the English language can have. A tricky thing to know is what to do when you need to quote only parts of a sentence. This article will answer that question.

How to Quote Parts of a Sentence

There are several different ways in which you can quote only certain parts of a sentence. First of all, you can quote the middle of a sentence, without the start or the end. You can also quote two parts of a sentence, or even end a quote mid-sentence.

how to quote parts of a sentence

There are few limits to the ways in which you can properly quote sentences following the conventions set by the “MLA” and Harvard rules. This is true as long as you’re following the proper format.

By using specific formats and assets like ellipsis, brackets, and other punctuation signs, we can strategically employ only certain parts of any given sentence without any issues.

How to Quote the Middle of a Sentence

If you want to quote the middle of a sentence, you can easily just use apostrophes to quote the specific parts that you’re referring to, without necessarily using the beginning or middle of the original sentence as well, and have it be fully comprehensible.

For example, you can say that John said he was ‘very tired and exhausted from all the work’ he did, and by wrapping the words around in apostrophes, you’re making it clear it’s a quote.

The apostrophes are very important because they make it clear that whatever is inside of them is the direct words of the person who originally said the quote in question.

Often, if you quote many full sentences in your own writing, you’re going to find that it makes it significantly more verbose and unwieldy, and doesn’t contribute to the comprehensibility of the text.

In these cases, you can be smarter about it, and simply quote from the middle of sentences, therefore giving yourself the freedom to rearrange content to suit whatever needs you think should be fulfilled.

Here are some examples of quoting from the middle of a sentence:

  1. Johnny said that he had arrived home ‘at around midnight, or somewhere in that vicinity’.
  2. She said that her discovery was ‘very profound, but also dangerous’, which is why she was hiding.
  3. I witnessed him talking about his ‘terrible mistake’ that he was insisting he needed to fix very soon.
  4. You have to understand that she literally said she was ‘dead tired’ after she got home from the trip.
  5. Considering how he literally said he’d ‘kill her if it’s the only thing that will solve this’, I suspect him.

How to Quote Two Parts of a Sentence

Similarly, you can also easily quote two distinct parts from an original sentence via a couple of different methods. In the first one you couch each part in apostrophes, and join them with a word like “and”. In the second one you use ellipsis to denote that you cut something.

In spite of what most people might seem to think, grabbing and cutting content from sentences that you’re quoting is easier than you’d think at first.

You can cut and then join different distinct sections that were separated in the original sentence, while still making it clear that you’re making alterations to the original structure.

Here are some examples of both ways in which you can accomplish this:

  1. In the essay, Foucault argues that it’s ‘unfair’ and that it’s ‘a twisted decision’ from the government.
  2. Smith makes the argument that the decision was ‘smart […] but also very logical at its core’.
  3. When looking at the edifice, he said it was ‘really quite big’ and also ‘somewhat threatening’.
  4. After he had turned in the project he said he’d ‘go out […] until he was drunk’.
  5. Allen examines this perspective by arguing that it’s ‘a big misconception’ and ‘completely wrong’.

Ending a Quote Mid-Sentence

When you want to end a quote mid-sentence, and you want to make it clear that the quote ends there but you also don’t want to post the full sentence, that’s when the use of bracketed ellipses comes into play. You use ellipsis to denote the content you’re not showing.

The bracketed ellipsis is a universally agreed-upon way of letting the reader know that the full quote has extra content where they’re used, no matter if it’s the beginning, middle, or end of the segment.

Therefore, by placing it at the end of your quote, you’re letting the reader know the original sentence goes on for longer.

Here are a few example sentences of how to use the ellipsis for this exact use:

  1. The director said that his other work ‘was less relevant to this entire experience overall […]’.
  2. She said she ‘didn’t think it would be of any importance at all at the time […]’.
  3. He looked at me, saying he was ‘sure that the airplane is taking off right this second […]’.
  4. John continued: ‘I wasn’t sure of what she was saying at the time, though I get it now […]’.
  5. She was talking about how ‘the entire relevance of the field is rapidly decreasing […]’.