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I understand there's a certain element of stylistic freedom in using quotes, double quotes, or neither.

But what are the specific cases when single quotes are generally recommended?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

...actually, so far as I know, one does not have stylistic freedom in using single or double quotes as one pleases. (Not in prose, anyway — all bets are off in poetry.)

In American English, dialogue or other quoted material goes in double quotes:

"There is no fate but what we make," she said.

Quoted material inside a quote goes in single quotes:

He answered, "Patrick Henry is known for 'Give me liberty or give me death,' particularly since he received the latter shortly thereafter."

However, in British English, the reverse typographical standard is used:

Bertie called, 'Jeeves! I say, Jeeves, where have you gotten off to?'

The valet shimmered into view. 'I was diverting the attentions of Mrs. Gregson, sir. She wished you to attend the Little Whinging "Auction of Wastrels," and I felt our time would be more profitably spent on the Continent.'

If you continue to nest quotes, you switch back and forth from double to single, starting with whichever you used first.

I said, "He told me, 'The Good Ship "Lollipop" has already been taken,' so I changed the name."
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