“I quote John Lennon: ‘I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.’ Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.”—Ferris Bueller, pontificating about why he does not believe in isms.
Even the Sausage King of Chicago needs to know when to use double or single quotation marks.
Example: Poor Paul Ryan appeared crestfallen after the guitarist of his favorite band said Ryan is “the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.”
Example: When I heard about Ryan Lochte’s efforts to trademark his inane “catchphrase,” I prayed for an extinction-level asteroid to come and punish us all.
These appear much less frequently. Chiefly, they serve to indicate quotations within quotations. Newspapers, to save space, will also use them in headlines.
Example: So I called the guy and said, “My buddy told me, ‘I want to go to Minnesota and kill Osama bin Laden,’ but that doesn’t really make sense, right?”
Quotation marks stand as the one of the most abused punctuation marks in English. Follow the rules above, and always consult a style guide when in doubt. If not, you may find your work on the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.