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Quotation Mark Punctuation Rules

Does punctuation go inside or outside quotation marks?

The general rule is that commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks, and colons, semicolons, and dashes go outside.


In the CNN article “Why people keep scrolling when they say they are done with Facebook,” Madeline Holcombe expounds upon the dangers of Facebook.

“There was a storm last night,” Paul said.
Peter, however, didn’t believe him. “I’m not sure that’s exactly what happened.”
Peter was aware of what he called “Paul’s weakness triangle”: he was half deaf, slept like a log, and was prone to lying.
Paul saw an argument coming, so he muttered only “But I saw it”; this was going to be a long night and he didn’t want to start it with a fight.

Question marks and exclamation points have their own rules.

If they apply to the quoted material, they go inside the quotation marks.
If they apply to the whole sentence, they go outside it.


Sandy asked them, “Why do you guys always fight?”
The quote itself is a question, so the question mark goes inside the quotation marks.
Did the dog bark every time he heard Sandy say “I’m bringing dinner”?
The overall sentence is a question, but the quote itself is not, so the question mark goes outside the quotation marks.
Adapted from:
“Quotation Marks.” Quotation Marks: How to Use Them Correctly (with Examples) | Grammarly, 19 Aug. 2016,

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