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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Grammar Questions and Quotation Marks

   
Author Topic: Grammar Questions and Quotation Marks
theworldinthewords
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Ok, so this has bugged me for a while. I can't find a straight answer to it.

When you have a question being asked within in quotation marks, do you put the quotation mark within the quotes when you have "he said"s and such?

Ex:

"Is this right?" he said.

or is it

"Is this right," he said.

and what about when I write "he asked."

"Is this right?" he asked.

or

"Is this right," he asked.


Sigh, so confusing.


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ChrisOwens
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"Is this right?" he asked.

To settle your doubts, pick up your favorite novel and see how the author handled it.

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited December 21, 2007).]


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JeanneT
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Except of course there are people who would swear you should never use "asked" as a tag. I've always that that that --"What?" he said.--was rather odd, so I do. Anyway, the question mark is inside the quotation marks.

Edit: I figure that they think it's one step down a slippery slope from "he asked" to "he ejaculated".

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 21, 2007).]


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rickfisher
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Yes. The question mark, exclamation mark, semi-colon, and colon go where logic dictates. The period and comma always go inside the quote marks.

When can the question mark go outside the quotes? When the thing being quoted is not the question (sounds obvious, and is, but because the rules are not logical in all cases, obviousness isn't enough sometimes). For example: Did he say, "I'm going to the store"? The question is not contained within what was said, but in whether it was said--in the containing sentence.

Really, if we did it logically, we'd have to use a lot more end punctuation. For example, if you quoted a complete statement in the middle of your sentence, there ought to be a period within the quotes, and a comma right after them, as in:

quote:
He took the artifact from my hand, said, "You won't live to regret this.", and pointed the gamma-blaster at my heart.
I can't say I like that, but it would make sense.

So forget about sense. Just remember: periods and commas, inside the quotes; other punctuation where it makes sense.

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited December 22, 2007).]


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annepin
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quote:
I've always that that that --"What?" he said.--was rather odd, so I do.

lol, JeanneT, still got "that" on your mind, eh?

For the record, I'd go with:

"Is this right?" he said.

But yeah, I don't have a problem with putting in "he asked" instead.

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited December 22, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited December 22, 2007).]


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JeanneT
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LOL Severe brain malfunction is the only explanation for typing what I did, annepin. Even I don't overuse that quite THAT much normally.
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oliverhouse
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Is there is an American / English difference here, too?
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JeanneT
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I don't believe so.
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lehollis
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I've heard the English method tends to put punctuation outside of quotes, but I don't know the specifics of how that works.
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rickfisher
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I'm pretty sure that British usage puts the comma outside a quote if it's something like the word "word", with no internal punctuation at all, but still put it inside "when they quote someone saying something," both styles of which are shown in this sentence. And there's some question about whether double quotes or single quotes come first when you're talking about quotes within quotes. Any other differences I'm not aware of.
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JeanneT
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Well, that useage is one I employ and I'm not Brit. But then I picked up some British useages from my grandmother... so maybe that is a Brit useage and I didn't know it.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 23, 2007).]


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Rick Norwood
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Note the difference in meaning between,

He asked, "Am I going?"

and

Did he say, "I'm going."?

I'm sure about the first punctuation, baffled by the second.


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JeanneT
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Here is an explanation of this issue from the Purdue University grammar website:

quote:
Put a dash, question mark, or exclamation point within closing quotation marks when the punctuation applies to the quotation itself and outside when it applies to the whole sentence.

Philip asked, "Do you need this book?"

Does Dr. Lim always say to her students, "You must work harder"?


Where you went wrong is putting a period within the quotation marks. It should be omitted. Otherwise, you had it correct in your example, Rick.

Here is the link: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_quote.html

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 25, 2007).]


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Rick Norwood
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Thanks.

Let me share a bit of grammar advice that I recently read that helped me a lot in choosing between "which" and "that". "Which" adds information, and is set off with a comma. "That" restricts the category.

The books, which are in blue covers, are new.

The books that are in blue covers are new.

And a person is always a "who", not a "which" or a "that". I see this mistake in posts all the time. It should be "John, who always wears a bowtie, came early." and "The man who came late wore suspenders."


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