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Exclamation Points with Quotation Marks

How do you punctuate if something in quotes ends in a necessary exclamation point or question mark but the sentence continues?

The Chicago Manual of Style offers this example:

Tichnick’s angry reply, “I do not know the man!” took us all by surprise.

Note the comma after reply but no comma after the exclamation point.

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2008, at 3:59 pm


6 Responses to “Exclamation Points with Quotation Marks”

  1. Brandy says:

    Thank you for your newsletters – they are the very best! I forward them to my son!

    Not sure if there is a past issue, but would you please clarify where the punctuation (comma, period) goes in a sentence when the sentence ends with a quote but the quote is not the entire sentence. For example: We went to the store and on our way Johnny said, “I want candy.” Does the punctuation go inside or outside the ending quote. I always thought the punctuation goes inside, but I’ve seen it both ways.

    • Jane says:

      Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks. Question marks, however, follow logic. Let’s change your sentence a little as an example. Can you understand why I was frustrated when Johnny said, “I want some candy”? Since the question is not inside the quotation marks, the question mark goes outside.

      The rules for punctuation with quotation marks are covered both in the hard copy Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation as well as on our website.

  2. Hudi S. says:

    If you could help me, I would appreciate this.
    Which of these two sentences is punctuated correctly and why?
    We could use some common sense for a “change”!
    We could use some common sense for a “change!”

    • Jane says:

      It is a bit difficult to answer your question since it appears that you are emphasizing the word change and I don’t know why. In normal circumstances, I would simply write the sentence as We could use some common sense for a change. Note that there is no exclamation mark, no quotation marks.

      If you are trying to convey major emphasis on the entire statement, and the word change carries some special meaning to your audience, then you would write We could use some common sense for a “change”!

      If only the word change carries some special meaning and you are only trying to emphasize that word, then you would write We could use some common sense for a “change!”

  3. Tammie says:

    Is it appropriate to use multiple exclamation points at the end every sentence if it is one continuous quote? or do I just put the exclamation point at the end of the last sentence? For example: Charlize shouted, “I am very frustrated. I need to use a resource book to find the correct answer!” OR Charlize shouted, “I am very frustrated! I need to use a resource book to find the correct answer!”

    • If you are quoting someone else, place the exclamation points exactly as the author wrote them. If you are creating your own sentence, it is up to you to determine where the element of emotion, emphasis, or surprise belongs. There is no rule limiting the number of exclamation points, however, overuse of exclamation points is a sign of undisciplined writing. An exclamation point should not be used unless the author is convinced it is justified. It seems that the exclamation point might be best used after the word frustrated.

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