Consider the following sentences:

Long ago, "fuego" started with an "h" instead of "f". There is connection between the words, "bishop" and "episcopal".

Is the period used correctly after the closing quote in both sentences? Or should it go inside the quotes?

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    In a word, yes. If the period (or any other punctuation) is yours, it goes outside the quotes. If the punctuation is part of the quote, it goes inside. Compare Did he say "I am angry"? where the question is yours, with Did he say "Is that a cat?" where the punctuation is part of the quote. Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 8:51
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    @RoaringFish shouldn't the second sentence be as Did he say "Is that a cat?"? Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 11:34
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    No... no need to use a question mark twice. I understand that you ask because the quoted question is within a second question, so maybe I heard him say "Is that a cat?" would have been a better example. Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 12:31
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    @Govind: According to some style guides, the only time you use two punctuation marks, one inside and the other outside a quote, is when one is a question mark and the other an exclamation mark. Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 16:46

3 Answers 3


In British English, yes. The comma placement is correct.

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    In British English? Do punctuations also vary by dialect?
    – TheLearner
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 9:11
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    I think there is some difference with full stops and quotation marks between British and American English. In British full stops invariably follow the quotation marks when applicable. theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2011/may/19/…
    – Martin
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 9:41

Both are possible, as long as you stay consistent. Check out the Guid to Punctuation by Larry Trask (University of Sussex). About ¾ down the linked page ("Quotation Marks and Direct Quotations"), you will find this:

Finally, there remains the problem of whether to put other punctuation marks inside or outside the quotation marks. There are two schools of thought on this, which I shall call the logical view and the conventional view.

The logical view holds that the only punctuation marks which should be placed inside the quotation marks are those that form part of the quotation, while all others should be placed outside. The conventional view, in contrast, insists on placing most other punctuation marks inside a closing quote, regardless of whether they form part of the quotation. Here are two sentences punctuated according to the logical view:

"The only thing we have to fear", said Franklin Roosevelt, "is fear itself." The Prime Minister condemned what he called "simple-minded solutions". And here they are punctuated according to the conventional view:

"The only thing we have to fear," said Franklin Roosevelt, "is fear itself." The Prime Minister condemned what he called "simple-minded solutions." Note the placing of the comma after fear in the first example and of the final full stop in the second. These are not part of their quotations, and so the logical view places them outside the quote marks, while the conventional view places them inside, on the theory that a closing quote should always follow another punctuation mark.

After that, he goes on to explain why he prefers to "logical way".

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    Interesting nomenclature. What he calls the logical view is what I thought was the conventional view (though I agree with him that it is more logical), and the 'put everything inside the quotation marks regardless' view was an American thing without much support. I say this because the only style guides I have seen recommending everything be inside the quotes are American ones, but all the individual Americans I know follow the logical view. Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 12:38
  • I understand the American idea of putting everything inside the quotes in examples where the quoted item is a sentence or a phrase. However, something looks out of place when it's a single word or letter. Would it be appropriate (by American standards) to say this: Use an "f" instead of "h."? Somehow, it looks awkward to me...especially in this example where the quoted item is also the end of the sentence.
    – TheLearner
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 12:43
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    I cannot say anything about the differences between Br and Am punctuation. On a slightly different note: Larry Trask would not put single letters or words like those in the original question in double-quotation-marks...
    – Tony
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 12:48
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    I was taught the "conventional way" in my american school, but I must say there is an appealing logic to the "logical way".
    – user39425
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 0:18

OK, I finally seem to have found a concrete mandate on this issue after digging a little deeper. Not sure if I should reference my source as a valid one since it's definitely not official but I'll let the readers be the judge. Here's the link: Quotation Marks: Where Do the Commas and Periods Go--and Why?

To quote the article, universal American usage places commas and periods inside the quotation marks, regardless of logic.

~"Diane," she said, "put the book down and go outside for a little while."

~"I will in a minute," she replied, "as soon as I finish this chapter."

This rule applies even when the unit enclosed at the end of the sentence is just a single word rather than an actual quotation:

~To get to the next page, just press the little button marked "Enter."

The only exception is when that last little item enclosed in quotation marks is just a letter or a number, in which case the period or comma will go outside the closing quotation marks:

~The buried treasure was marked on the map with a large "X".

~The only grade that will satisfy her is an "A".

~On this scale, the highest ranking is a "1", not a "10".

  • 1
    +1 for the link to the article. However, the adjective "universal" they use is somewhat of a misnomer, as it only takes a short time to find an example of "B," in Google books, with the comma inside the quotes. And many (I would hope all) American computer programming books will put the punctuation outside the quotes when it would be confusing to have it inside. Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 16:41

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