1. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Punctuating in and out of quotations - please help!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Sep 22, 2009.

    Hey all,
    I'm brand new to the site by the way (just joined 5 minutes ago). I have a question that's been bugging me for awhile. I can't seem to get a solid answer in my search. As far as punctuation in and out of quotation marks, do you only not punctuate within the quotation marks when it's a fragmented sentence. For example:

    "Go to the other side of the house." Jack said.

    or would it be:

    "Go to the other side of the house", Jack said.

    or would it be:

    "Go to the other side of the house.", Jack said.

    Only the middle one looks right to me. I guess my confusion comes when I have a complete sentence in quotation marks, and the entire quote is in a larger sentence in the text.
     
  2. Syne
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    Syne Member

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    This is the most proper way, I believe:

    "Go to the other side of the house," Jack said.
    Jack said, "Go to the other side of the house."
    Jack said, "Go to the other side of the house," and Shirley did as he was bid.

    In other words, a quote appearing at the beginning of a sentence is concluded with a comma at its end.
    A quote appearing at the end of a sentence is concluded with a period, and a comma precedes it.
    A quote appearing in the middle of a sentence is preceded by a comma and is concluded with a comma.

    However, in many cases, if the quote is small enough, it is possible to omit one or all of the commas preceding or concluding the quote. Note that the period at the end of a sentence always appears within the quote. Also note that you shouldn't touch any of the punctuation marks that appear in the quote, as it was said. You shouldn't shift commas around, for example.

    It's difficult for me to believe you actually searched for the answer, though. It appears as the first search result on Google.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    None of the above. The correct answer is:
    This may help: He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue

    A dialogue tag is a phrase that attaches to the quoted fragment to indicates who said it. That is the only thing you should attach to the quoted part. If Shirley responds to what Jack said, it belongs in a separate sentence.

    Beats, or actions that the speaker takes before or after a spoken phrase, also belong in a separate sentence:

    "This is how it's gonna be." Jack leaned toward Talbert. "I ask the questions, and you answer. Capisce?"
     
  4. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This one is correct.
    The other two sentences are always incorrect. The punctuation has to be within the quote tags in dialogue. The only other time I'm aware of that you would put punctuation outside of dialogue would be if you used a colon or semicolon and sometimes when using a dash. I've never encountered the need, though.

    Edit: oops...you guys are quick on the draw. :D
     
  5. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Thank you all so much. This was a tremendous help. Cleared up a lot for me.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    john's second example could be correct in british usage, where the period and comma can go outside the " "... in american usage, they go inside...
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ugh. I haven't seen that variation. However, in the US, where John appears to be from, it's just wrong.
     

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