English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Who said "I am hungry?"

The quotation is not a question, but do I put "my" question mark there anyway?

This is related to, but not the same as Position of question mark when sentence doesn't end with question

share|improve this question

If you put the question mark inside the speech marks, the speech becomes a question. Your example is thus incorrect as 'I am hungry?' makes little sense as a question, unless the person has brain damage and is unaware of his hunger!

A more valid example might be:

He asked, "Which way to the museum?"

If you shift the ? outside the speech marks:

Who said, "I am hungry"?

Then the whole sentence is now the question: the speaker is asking who stated that they were hungry.

You only use one punctuation mark when using speech/quotation marks.

share|improve this answer
+1 Good answer. But I can imagine a scenario where I might find myself marveling at an attack of hunger pangs occurring soon after a meal: "Wait, I'm hungry? That doesn't make sense!" :) – Robusto Jan 27 '11 at 21:04
So it is acceptable in this situation to place the question mark outside the quotation marks? – Jay Jan 28 '11 at 4:10
It's not only acceptable, it's necessary in this context. – user3444 Jan 28 '11 at 11:35
The current Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (2010) made exceptions to the rule about only using one punctuation mark when using quotation marks. Section 6.120 says the combination of question mark and exclamation point can be preserved, as in Who shouted, “Long live the king!”? That edition also gives much deference to punctuation that is part of a title, going even so far as to put commas after question marks and exclamation points that are part of a title. – Old Pro Apr 28 '12 at 17:49
What about the following case: (et al.). Is the period needed after "al" or isn't it? – Adam Mosheh May 16 '12 at 20:09

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.