My literature teacher was explaining punctuation and its relation to quotations when writing a paper according to MLA guidelines and I thought of a question that he didn't have an answer to. I figured this Stack would be an appropriate place to try.

If I'm asking a question that ends in a short quotation, how would I punctuate the sentence if the quotation itself ends in a question mark.

To illustrate what I mean, consider the following.

Do you remember the time when Alex asked "how do you do?"?

I'm asking my own question (do you remember the time...?) but within my question, is a quotation that itself ends in a question mark.

What is the correct way to punctuate this sentence in MLA format? Is the way I wrote it correct? I couldn't find anything on Purdue OWL or this stack, and my teacher is curious to hear back from me as well.

  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the answer provided just quotes the MLA site at the relevant point. Also, particular styles are styleguidist, and it is unreasonable to quote them in isolation. Sep 13, 2019 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


MLA's style guide answers this directly:

Do not use two question marks. Use only the question mark contained in the quotation:

Which Shakespeare character asked, “Is this a dagger which I see before me,

The handle toward my hand?” 

But if the sentence includes a parenthetical citation, place the question mark after the citation:

How would you respond to the writer’s question, “How important is punctuation” (5)?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.