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How should I punctuate this sentence? It seem that I should somehow distinguish the question part of the sentence from the main part of the sentence.

If I didn't know the answer, I would first ask, "Which one of these is more important?"

or

If I didn't know the answer, I would first ask, which one of these is more important?

or

If I didn't know the answer, I would first ask which one of these is more important?

Or something else?

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"Distinguishing the question part of the sentence from the main part of the sentence" in this instance is done by putting quotation marks around the quotation and putting a comma before the quotation.

If I didn't know the answer, I would first ask, "Which one of these is more important?"

The first sentence is correct.

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In the first sentence, it should be :

........I would first ask : "Which ....

In the second, you have to suppress the comma before "which", leading to :

the third sentence, but without the " ? " at the end, just a period.

  • -1 Why should it be a colon & not a comma in the first sentence? The comma - not the colon - is the traditional separator in English before or after a quotation. – TrevorD Oct 10 '13 at 0:03

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