How would I correctly punctuate the following:

Did you ever say, "Isn't that a cute puppy."

It's a question, evidenced by "Did you", but "isn't that a cute puppy" is not a question even though it is at the end of a question.

  • 1
    Why isn't it a question?
    – Mick
    Oct 2, 2016 at 20:03
  • Punctuation is treated prescriptively by some, though not all prescriptivists have the same rules. I've read somewhere that 'British English [whatever that is] allows [whatever that means] double punctuation where necessary to show intended meaning.' I'd use 'Did you ever say, "Isn't that a cute puppy."?' or 'Did you ever say, "Isn't that a cute puppy?"?' for the question variant (which is allowable). Oct 2, 2016 at 20:07
  • It allows it, but it is horrifically clunky. Generally you'd expect to see a single question mark, inside the quotes.
    – Rory Alsop
    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


You have two question here:

  • "Did you ever say" is a question which introduces a citation in quotes,
  • "Isn't that a cute puppy" is another question.

There all have interrogative words: "Did", "Isn't".

There is a difference with affirmative questions like "So you’re Harry’s cousin?". Without the question mark, it is an affirmation, not a question.

Strictly speaking, this two questions require a question mark. So you should add two question marks. But the usage is to omit the one in the citation:

Did you ever say: "Isn't that a cute puppy"?


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