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Is it correct to use sentences in the following format?

X asked, “...?”.

That is, a simple interrogative sentence enclosed within quotes followed by a period. Which is the correct sentence?

  • He asked, “How do you do?” She colloquially responds, “NM.”
  • He asked, “How do you do?”. She colloquially responds, “NM.”

Are there any alternatives to the above sentence?

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I'm voting to close as General Reference. I'm sure there are other (and perhaps easier) ways to establish what (competent) writers actually do here, but one is just to look at the results returned by searching for "voice said who are you" in Google Books. You could do the same search in Google Internet, but you might need to ignore a handful of incompetent / casual writers. – FumbleFingers Jan 24 '13 at 22:15
The second option is incorrect and horrifying. The first is correct but boring. Barrie's suggestion is better. – user36489 Jan 26 '13 at 12:54
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The reporting verbs would normally be in the same tense, that is, either asked and responded or asks and responds, and there is no point in using the adverb colloquially if you are reporting a conversation. The verb here would normally be reply rather than respond, it would normally follow the speech, and separate speeches will often occur on separate lines. I don’t know what NM means, but if you think your readers will know, then you can use it.

Some may disagree, but a comma after a reporting verb isn’t really necessary. There is also no need to add a full stop (or period) after a question mark and terminal quotation marks. It is clear where the sentence ends without it, and it only adds clutter to the page.

Taking those points into account, I would suggest:

He asked “How do you do?”

“NM” she replied.

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Both seem fine.

Both of them returned no errors on multiple grammar check sites,
although I prefer the first option (as a native English speaker/writer).

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This is a bug in the grammar check sites. I have never seen the combination of punctuation ?". used, and I would strongly discourage anybody from using it. – Peter Shor Jan 24 '13 at 21:18
I know, it seemed weird to me too, I'll check again. I personally prefer the first option too. – Siddhartha Jan 25 '13 at 7:18

A full stop is not needed at the ends of sentences with question (?) or exclamation (!) marks, as those are considered to be its own punctuation. http://www.mantex.co.uk/2009/09/06/english-language-full-stop/

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protected by RegDwigнt Jan 26 '13 at 16:29

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