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If my sentence is a question and ends with a quote of a question, where exactly do I put a question mark?

  1. Did she ask, "Is it raining"?

  2. Did she ask, "Is it raining?"?

  3. Did she ask, "Is it raining?"

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The convention here is to write

Did she ask, "Is it raining?"

with the first question mark included and the second omitted.

See for example Jane Straus's Blue book of grammar and punctuation or Larry Trask's Guide to punctuation.

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1  
Isn't there a comma before the direct speech, or is that just a typo? –  Stefano Palazzo Aug 5 '11 at 9:22
2  
If you're going to down-vote an answer, please post a comment explaining how it can be improved. Thanks! To whom it may concern. :-) –  Stefano Palazzo Aug 5 '11 at 9:55

As reported in Comma sense—a fun-damental guide to punctuation (Richard Lederer and John Shore, ISBN 0-312-34255-1), the question mark should be used once, and inside the quotation marks.

Did you hear me ask, "Do you think that I love punctuation?"

If the quoted sentence contain an exclamation point, then both the exclamation point and the question mark are used.

Did you hear me exclaim, "I love punctuation!"?

Similarly, both the exclamation point and the question mark are used in sentences similar to the following one:

How wonderful that I asked, "Do you think that I love punctuation?"!

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2  
Your answer is also in conformance with the current Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (2010) section 6.120. –  Old Pro Apr 28 '12 at 17:52

Taken from rules concerning Question mark usage here:

In the rare case where the question is about a quotation ending in a question, the sentence ends with a single question mark before the quotation mark.

Incorrect: Who said, "Et tu, Bruté?"?
(Second question mark redundant)
Correct: Who said, "Et tu, Bruté?"

Thus, for your example, it would be :

2.Did she ask, "Is it raining?"

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2  
Brute wasn't a frenchman... –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Aug 5 '11 at 20:27

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