What is Anecdotes? Use Anecdotes, Quotations and Quotes in Writing

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Anecdotes, quotes and quotations are vital elements to spice up the language while writing long pieces or conversing with others. These elements will help grab the attention of the readers so that the story or the scenes flow naturally. Solely one-dimensional commentary would make narratives boring without these clever gems tucked right into the language. Using a fitting anecdote somewhere, a few quotes and quotations here and there would instantly increase the credibility of a piece of writing or speech.

What is an Anecdote?

Anecdotes are stories or tales told with regards to an already ongoing discussion. These stories can be about anything and of any length as long as in context. An anecdote is a form of a brief story that comes up during a conversation in the form of reference. These are real-life stories about real people and/or real-life incidents that have happened in the past. 

For example, a group of students was discussing how their pets have these weird or hilarious habits. One of them shared a story about her cat that has a habit of climbing down the stairs at the same time every single day. A visually expressive anecdote right there! 

Anecdotes help continue conversations pleasantly. Others also feel encouraged to share similar experiences they had in the past. And by sharing personal memories and experiences, the conversation builds as does the bonding of the speakers.

Daily Life Anecdotes

Anecdotes, by definition, pop up here and there almost daily. People are in the habit of mentioning anecdotes during conversations for their natural pull towards nostalgia and reminiscence. Anecdotes can be top-notch conversation starters and carriers. Two people can keep talking for hours just by dropping anecdotes after anecdotes without it ever seeming awkward. As for example -

  • A mango tree can prompt a childhood story about picking green mangoes on a stormy afternoon.
  • A family holiday destination can bring forth memories of the father’s first visit there with his friends and the confession of how it felt all those years back.

Anecdotes in Literature

Anecdotes had not only been used in daily conversations but their presence can be spotted largely in the realm of literature as well. Anecdotes in literature create vivid imagery that shows the reader what actually is happening in the literary commentary. By dropping a thorough detail of what’s happening, the author paints a picture that almost feels like a lived reality for the people reading it. Look at Oscar Wilde’s use of anecdote below - 

  • I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying (“The Remarkable Rocket” from Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and Other Tales).


Well-known brief excerpts from famous literary pieces are deemed quotations that have been exclusively referred to over the years. Quotations are usually more formal and established in nature. "A group of words taken from a text or speech and repeated by someone other than the original author or speaker," is called a quotation by the Oxford English Dictionary

Memorizing quotations and using them in befitting contexts are considered as a profound display of intelligence and wit. Famous quotations to have lived in the minds of people over centuries tend to hold the power of remaining relatable beyond space and time. For example, here is the famous quotation by T. E. Lawrence - “All men dream: but not equally.”


Words said or written by someone in a published material that can be put within quotation marks to be referred to in some later pieces of writing. Quotes mean to "repeat the exact words of another with the acknowledgment of the source" according to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Quotes are more casual in nature compared to quotations. The word, "Quote" has become more widely used than "Quotation" nowadays. Since quotes cover just about any kind of quotable statement that has been retold while giving the author due respect, quotations too have a tendency to be referred to as quotes.

Quotes as Evidence

Quotes are often used as evidence mostly in casual or informal settings. People use them while proving a point or theorizing something. Both quotes (from the publications) and quotations (from famous texts) act as key evidence in proving a point while writing. They help serve as backups to any interpretation or argument. Academic research gets the most value out of quotes since the research matters depend vastly on what has already been published in a similar context and what the researcher can prove with the help of those.

When Did Quotes and Quotation Become the Same?

Due to people’s tendency to use shorter words over the longer ones, somewhere along the line (mostly during the 19th century) the subtle distinction between the words, “Quote” and “Quotation” ceased to exist. “Quote” replaced “Quotation” ever so swiftly and started being able to mean both when needed. Though in proper formal settings “Quotation” would still be preferred over “Quote,” it would be totally opposite in terms of casual and informal settings. That means, in most cases, we can now use these two words almost interchangeably.

The linguistic ornaments in anecdotes, quotes and quotations render a refreshing change where the speech or writing requires it, bringing welcome relief from monotonous narrative or commentary. The proper use of these in the right places can bring out the most engaging result when it is about connecting with the readers or listener(s).


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