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Question Marks with Quotation Marks

Last week, we examined the strict rule governing periods and commas with quotation marks. This week, let’s look at the more logical rules governing the use of question marks with quotation marks.

Rule – The placement of question marks with quotations follows logic. If a question is in quotation marks, the question mark should be placed inside the quotation marks.

Examples:
She asked, “Will you still be my friend?”

Do you agree with the saying, “All’s fair in love and war”?
Here the question is outside the quote.

NOTE: Although some writers and editors disagree in special cases, only one ending punctuation mark is necessary with quotation marks. Also, the stronger punctuation mark wins. Therefore, no period after war is used.

 

Rule – When you have a question outside quoted material AND inside quoted material, use only one question mark and place it inside the quotation mark.

Example:
Did she say, “May I go?”

 

Pop Quiz

Choose the correct sentence.

1A. The song asks, “Would you like to swing on a star?”

1B. The song asks, “Would you like to swing on a star”?

 

2A. “Is it almost over?” he asked?

2B. “Is it almost over?” he asked.

2C. “Is it almost over?,” he asked.

2D. “Is it almost over,” he asked?

 

3A. Do you believe the saying, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it”?

3B. Do you believe the saying, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it?”

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1A. The song asks, “Would you like to swing on a star?”

2B. “Is it almost over?” he asked.

3A. Do you believe the saying, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it”?

 

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Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at 11:45 am


Quotations Within Quotations

Almost all of us have found ourselves confused with double and single quotation marks. When do we use single quotation marks? Where does the punctuation go with single quotation marks? With just a few rules and examples, you will feel surer about your decisions.

Rule: Use single quotation marks inside double quotation marks when you have a quotation within a quotation.

Example: Bobbi told me, “Delia said, ‘This will never work.’ ”

Notice that what Delia said was enclosed in single quotation marks. Notice also that the period was placed inside both the single and the double quotation marks. The American rule is that periods always go inside all quotation marks.

Example: Bobbi said, “I read the article, ‘A Poor Woman’s Journey.’ ”

Rule:
Question marks and quotation marks, unlike periods, follow logic with their placement. If a quote inside a quote is a question or exclamation, place the question mark or exclamation mark inside the single quotation marks.

Examples: Bobbi said, “Delia asked, ‘Will this remote control work on my TV?’ ”
Bobbi said, “Delia shouted, ‘Get your hands off me!’ ”

Rule: If the question is inside the double quotation marks, place the question mark between the single and double quotation marks.

Examples: Bobbi asked, “Did Delia say, ‘This will never work’?”

(Because you will rarely need an exclamation mark within the double quotation marks and not within the single quotation marks, there is little sense discussing this.)

Rule: In the above three examples, only one ending punctuation mark was used with the quotation marks. The rule is that the “stronger” mark wins. Question marks and quotation marks are considered stronger than the period. Period!

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Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007, at 1:18 am