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I'm an American living in the USA. Is it permissible to punctuate thusly, i.e., insert the commas and periods outside the quote marks?

• When Joe called me a "schlep", I was offended.

• The terms "prevaricate", "tergiversate", and "masticate" rhyme.

• Make sure to enter the log-in password "geeksquad 4".

• Nancy said, "I heard Lou say, 'Be careful what you wish for'." (Is the '." ending correct here?)

• Joe said, "Respect your elders". (Thinking it should be: Joe said, "Respect your elders.")


marked as duplicate by Janus Bahs Jacquet, aedia λ, anongoodnurse, RyeɃreḁd, Kristina Lopez Feb 12 '14 at 16:19

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  • The guidelines for punctuation will be set forth in whichever style guide you are following. See also When should end punctuation go inside quotes? among many others. – choster Feb 11 '14 at 14:55
  • 2
    There are ten related questions in the sidebar. – Andrew Leach Feb 11 '14 at 15:00
  • Who's stopping you? Who do you need permission from? If you try to write a column for a newspaper or magazine doesn't use this style, they'll change them. But otherwise, you can use "logical" quote marks. – Peter Shor Feb 11 '14 at 15:36
  • All correct, in my opinion, except number 4. – WS2 Feb 11 '14 at 17:36

According to all literary style guides, you always put punctuation marks within quotation marks. The prevalence of putting punctuation outside of quotation marks I think might be related to the rise in programming languages, which are very logic-oriented, and use strings or values inside of a pair of quotation marks (" ") to create an entry point for the programming language to use as a reference. So it makes logical sense to write your entry as:


rather than


This is conjecture, however; it could easily be coincidence.

  • -1. See my answer for reason. – WS2 Feb 11 '14 at 16:02
  • @WS2 It seems they've been altered since I went to school. – TylerH Feb 11 '14 at 16:12
  • I think it depends on which country you went to school in. – Peter Shor Feb 11 '14 at 16:27
  • @PeterShor I'm sorry if I had not allowed for that fact. So are you saying that in the OP's final example you would have put the stop inside the close quote? – WS2 Feb 11 '14 at 16:36
  • @PeterShor I draw my experiences as an American in the US, and shaped my response around that, too, since that's the context of the question. – TylerH Feb 11 '14 at 16:36

If 'all' literary style guides say that punctuation marks 'always'are placed within quotation marks, as Tyler H maintains, then I can see that I have been wise in never paying any attention to style guides.

I follow the rules of English convention and logic, and clearly the circumstances vary. And in the OP's examples I adjudge that he has got four of the five right. In the case of the final one: 'Joe said "Respect your elders"', it would be quite wrong to put the full-stop inside the quotation marks.

Irrespective of anything, a full-stop always concludes a sentence, unless the whole sentence is between quotes, in which case the stop goes before the final close quote.

Edit. I've just realised that example 4 is incorrect according to the way I would do it. As the entire sentence is not within the double-quote marks, the full stop goes at the very end.

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