Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Possible Duplicate:
Is it correct to use “punctuation outside of the quotations”, or “inside?”

I've heard that you should always place ending punctuation inside of quotes, no matter what.

Are there any cases where it is appropriate for a sentence to end with ".?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by MετάEd, RegDwigнt Nov 7 '12 at 10:49

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

12  
It's correct when you're accessing a method of a string literal in Python: "test,test".split(",") –  Evan Kroske Aug 5 '10 at 20:01
1  
American rules are very simple: periods always go inside, while other closing punctuation goes in its logical place. British rules are far more complicated. –  TRiG Oct 14 '10 at 21:39
3  
@TRiG: American rules are very complicated, and on the decline. I have five published books to my name by an American publisher, and because they are of highly technical nature, I use logical quoting instead of illogical quoting. This is critical because you can make distinctions using logical quoting that are impossible with illogical quoting. –  tchrist Jan 15 '12 at 15:45

6 Answers 6

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Yes. See the Economist style guide:

If the quotation does not include any punctuation, the closing inverted commas should precede any punctuation marks that the sentence requires.

More at the Guardian style guide.

share|improve this answer
14  
It should be pointed out that this is British style (also "logical" style, where only the actual quote is quoted), but Americans want to always put punctuation inside quotes for typographical reasons. This is very slowly changing, especially in technical areas. –  ShreevatsaR Aug 5 '10 at 22:23
    
@ShreevatsaR: +1, it has always seemed counter-intuitive to me to put the period inside the quotes. Interesting to know that it's for typographical reasons, not anything to do with logic :-) –  DCookie Apr 14 '11 at 15:37

Punctuation inside quotes is a rule that was invented by American publishers and is not necessarily followed elsewhere. The original reason had to do with typesetting mechanics and is obsolete. Also, if you're preparing technical texts such as about computer programming, this can result in technically incorrect material. In practice, you are at the mercy of whoever is editing or grading your material. But to answer your question, it can certainly be "acceptable" in many parts.

share|improve this answer
    
Would you say It can certainly be "acceptable".? –  Daniel LeCheminant Aug 5 '10 at 20:11
13  
Personally, yes. I would put the punctuation outside the quotes when it belongs to the outside sentence, and inside the quotes when it's part of the material being quoted. But that's because I'm a computer programmer. I realize that the punctuation inside the quotes rule is deeply entrenched in American publishing and difficult to fight. –  Peter Eisentraut Aug 5 '10 at 20:17
7  
I wondered if my strong desire to put the period outside of the quotes had to do with being a computer programmer. –  Daniel LeCheminant Aug 5 '10 at 20:20
    
+1. I think that the section in "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" that deals with this is excellent. –  Adam Robinson Aug 5 '10 at 20:25
    
As a B.A. of English, as a former technical writer and editor in the DC metro area of USA (a long time ago), as well as from my perspective now as a web developer, this topic interests me. I did not know this new sentiment, Peter, and am pleased to hear it. I had been forcing it through, anyway, and ensuring that all quoted terms had the punctuation outside of it, unless the term itself was always known to have the punctuation inside. Now if only most USA teachers followed along, we'd be getting somewhere. Meanwhile, there's always italics. –  Volomike Sep 24 '10 at 17:57

Actually, Wikipedia seems to give a good answer to this. I think it can be summarized as "most people just make it up as they go." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_marks#Typographical_considerations

If you're an American, periods or commas almost always go inside the quotation marks. If you're British, periods and commas only go inside if they're part of the actual quote. Unless you're a journalist, or publishing fiction. Then you do it the American way!

I really don't consider one way more correct than another. I guess it just depends on what your audience expects.

share|improve this answer
    
Don't you mean quotation marks, not parenthesis? –  mouche Aug 5 '10 at 21:06
    
Yeah. Whoops! Editing...Thanks... –  kitukwfyer Aug 5 '10 at 21:15

I was taught that if the quote has more than one sentence, then you do it like this, with a period in and a period out:

Statement:

I once heard a quote that said "Stop. You can't go. If you go, you can't stop. If you stop, you can't go.".

Question:

Is there a quote that says "Stop. You can't go. If you go, you can't stop. If you stop, you can't go."?

That isn't a real quote, by the way.

If it only has a phrase, or if it only has one sentence, then you do it like this:

Statement:

John said "Get out of here".

Question:

Did John say "Get out of here"?

share|improve this answer
    
For American English, the Chicago Manual of Style is very influential. The current version, 16th ed. (2010), section 6.118, says that a period (except one that ends an abbreviation) never appears with a question mark or exclamation point. Where they would, you simply omit the period. In the case of declarative statements, your example should be styled John said, "Get out of here." I can find no exception for the case where the quoted material contains multiple sentences, so I would expect the same rule to apply. –  Old Pro Apr 28 '12 at 22:51

The only thing that goes inside quotation marks is the quotation. If the quotation contains punctuation, the punctuation should be included inside the quotation marks. If not, the punctuation is perfectly fine outside the quotation marks.

share|improve this answer

The answer I remember for British English is

If the quoted material forms a complete sentence (even if it's broken out of), even if it is not a complete sentence in the original source, and there is a punctuation mark before the opening quote, then the full stop should go inside.

"I think", he said "that would be a good idea."

The full quote forms a complete sentence and starts with a capital letter, even though it's broken out of to interject the he said.

I think there were even more subtleties in the article in The Right Word at the Right Time. (It's a rather excellent Readers Digest book.)

share|improve this answer
    
-1: I don't think it's a matter of English variety, but rather of style. –  J D OConal Oct 15 '10 at 2:37
1  
It is a matter of English variety. In American English, the period always goes inside the closing quotation mark. Always. –  TRiG Oct 15 '10 at 9:55

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