Submitted by goossun  •  June 13, 2004

Punctuation

Where do we put question mark, dot, exclamation mark etc. when a sentence ends with a quotation mark? Before or after the closing quotation mark? (”...where?” or “...where”?) or where?!

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In Standard English the punctuation that relates to the whole sentence goes outside the quotation mark- any punctuation that's part of the quotation obviously goes inside the quotation marks.

If you've got a repeated punctuation mark when it comes to quotations (e.g. He said "You've got a nice car.".), in English you put both full stops, whereas in American English you just put the one inside the quotation marks.

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How about when the sentence and quotation end differently? In this example, the quotation is an exclamation, but the sentence is a question.

Did you see the show where that lady yelled "Cheese!"?

What are the rules for that?

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Jared, this is a style thing. I was originally taught that you've got it correct in your example:

"Did you see the show where that lady yelled 'Cheese!'?"

When the part between the quotes is a sentence or sentence fragment (like the exclamation above), and it ends in an ! or a ?, then it keeps its own punctuation inside the quotes.

But when the internal sentence (that's not a grammar term; I just made it up) ends in a period, though, the external sentence punctuation governs and it is placed inside the quotes (American English):

"When you asked Manufacturing for the liner hanger, did you tell them 'Make the thread like the 7 inch tandem mechanical?'"

Now many styles--and many Engligh teachers--require that the second example always applies, so that your example would read, "Did you see the show where that lady yelled 'Cheese?'"

But I don't really think that has the necessary force.

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"Did you see the show where that lady yelled 'Cheese?'" would mean that the lady had asked the question "Cheese?".

Since she had only yelled "Cheese!" (and not asked it), you can not enclose the question mark inside her quotes, otherwise you would be inaccurately reporting what she had said.

"Did you see...?" is YOUR question, not the woman's. She has no business stealing your question mark.

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I know of no styleguide that recommends putting the question mark inside the quotation marks when it is not part of the quotation. In the CMS, question marks, exclamation points, and the like are subject to different rules than periods, commas, semicolons, etc., which are worked into the quotation whenever possible without creating ambiguity.

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What is the word for the punctuation "..." ? (aka, dot, dot, dot.)

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Jo, it's called an ellipsis. If you poke around on this site, you will find several interesting posts about it.

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