I'm aware of most differences in punctuation usage between American English and British English. However, I came across something conflicting or erroneous when I was reading Oxford English Grammar, Sidney Greenbaum.

The following two examples is from the book and on how AmE kind of decrees that the final punctuation be included within the end quotation mark.

  1. One writer, signing his letter as "Red-blooded, balanced male," remarked on the "frequency of women fainting in peals," and suggested that they "settle back in their traditional role of making tea at meetings."

  2. Last December, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut leading "The Tales of Hoffman"; he returns his winter to do "Samson and Delilah" and "Faust."

I want to understand whether or not the semicolon in the second sentence is correctly placed after the quotation mark.

I wouldn't have any question if it were say a question mark instead of the semicolon, because in that case the question mark would be within the end quotation followed by a reporting clause something like below:

"The Tales of Hoffman?" he doubted whether that was with which he led his Metropolitan Opera debut.


1 Answer 1


While British and American conventions differ about the placement of commas and periods inside or outside quotation marks, there is no disagreement about other punctuation such as colons, semicolons, or dashes: both agree they go outside the quotation marks.

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