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Is it correct to have a comma before the closing quotation marks in a case like the following?

“The combination of wet weather and time of day make this a dangerous stretch of road. Drivers have to take extra care in these conditions,” Officer Neville Plodd said.

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  • It's not a question of grammar per se, but one of punctuation style. A comma (inside or outside the closing quotes) would once have been considered 'necessary' to set off the completed statement, doing duty for the full stop (messy in the middle of the whole sentence). Nowadays, the comma would often be omitted, though 'Officer Neville Plod said' would usually be inverted. Sep 11, 2014 at 8:38
  • ... According to grammar.ccc: In the United Kingdom, Canada, and islands under the influence of British education ... ... punctuation around quoted speech or phrases depends on how it fits into the rest of your text. If a quoted word or phrase fits into the flow of your sentence without a break or pause, then a comma may not be necessary: The phrase "lovely, dark and deep" begins to suggest ominous overtones. Sep 11, 2014 at 8:44
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    Highly related: Punctuation edge cases
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 11, 2014 at 8:50
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    At any rate, this is about punctuation and not grammar. If you read that sentence aloud, there will be no punctuation marks at all. That has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not it's grammatical.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 11, 2014 at 9:02

1 Answer 1

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Yes it is. At least if we believe ODO's take on the matter, and personally I see no valid reason to not believe them, except if you (have to) follow a style guide that tells you differently. ODO says:

There should be a comma, full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark at the end of a piece of speech. This is placed inside the closing inverted comma or commas.
‘Can I come in?’ he asked.
‘Just a moment!’ she shouted.
‘You’re right,’ he said.

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    A valid reason is that this is a matter of style, and that other style guides give other guidance here. Sep 11, 2014 at 8:45
  • @EdwinAshworth: you are right, of course. I added a bit of nuance. :)
    – oerkelens
    Sep 11, 2014 at 9:13
  • so despite being a matter of style rather than grammar, is it correct for me to leave the sentence as it is? Sep 11, 2014 at 10:17
  • Do you have to follow a style guide that says the comma is wrong? If not, then the ODO at least tells you your sentence is fine.
    – oerkelens
    Sep 11, 2014 at 10:19
  • no, I'm a first-year journalism student who can't find her style guide so I'm turning to the internet for assistance. Thank you Sep 11, 2014 at 10:24

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