The Grammarphobia Blog

Quoth the raven

Q: When using quotations, does punctuation belong inside or outside the quotation marks? Does the type of punctuation (e.g., comma, period, question mark, etc.) affect the location? If you would be so kind, please clarify.

A: Standard American punctuation calls for putting periods, commas, question marks, and exclamation points INSIDE quotation marks. [“Let’s go,” he said. “Please.” “But why?” she asked. “We’ll have fun!”]

Colons and semicolons go OUTSIDE the quotation marks. [Their favorite song was “Misty”: the first tune they’d ever danced to. They also liked “My Funny Valentine”; they knew the lyrics by heart.]

Exceptions: a question mark or exclamation point goes OUTSIDE the quotation marks if it’s not actually part of the quotation. [Why do they like “Misty”? I can’t stand “My Funny Valentine”!]

I hope this helps.

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