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Possible Duplicate:
How should I punctuate around quotes?
When should end punctuation go inside quotes?

Here is what I have written:

Is it too late to say, "Don't go. I'm sorry"?

Here is my question:

If I add a period after sorry, within the quotes, is it absolutely incorrect. I don't know why, but the above looks wrong.

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Barrie England, StoneyB, Lunivore, RegDwigнt Nov 13 '12 at 10:23

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It looks wrong to you, but it is not. Complete sentences inside quotes are not incorrect, and the question mark goes outside because it is a part of the overall question and not part of the quotation. This rule applies to question mark and semi-colon but not to comma and period. See almost any American style guide.

To make the quote "look better" you could change the period to a comma or semi-colon; that would also be correct usage.

  • I don't know where you learned English but it is generally correct to insert a semi-colon anywhere two clauses, especially short ones, are used. And for exceptionally short clauses, such as the above, a comma is preferred (citation to be added when I get a chance). And since there is already one punctuation mark, a second is not used. To end with 'period' 'quotation' 'question mark' (."?) would be wrong. – shipr Nov 13 '12 at 1:24
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    Quotation references: Grammar Book, CommNet – shipr Nov 13 '12 at 1:46
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    Comma reference: Rule 5, last clause; Rule 5 - semi-colon – shipr Nov 13 '12 at 1:52
  • @Bill If you will upvote my comments (after checking their correctness), we will call it even. And by the way, I like your network profile comments! May I plagiarize some of them? – shipr Nov 13 '12 at 2:00
  • Okay, I found one too. I've deleted my comments, but I apparently can't revoke the downvote because it's locked, so I upvoted your comments to balance the DV. Sorry about that. I see what you mean now about changing the period to a comma or a semicolon. I didn't understand it the first time. I hate comma splices (personal peeve), but I suppose anything's possible in dialog. – user21497 Nov 13 '12 at 2:09

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