Grammar Rule – Quotation Marks

“Did you hear that Legolas cut his hair?” or is it “Did you hear that Legolas cut his hair”? Punctuation and quotation marks can be confusing. Does the punctuation go inside or outside the quotation marks? The answer is yes, no, and maybe. Confused? Yeah, I was, too. 🙂 Hopefully this will help clear up some of the confusion:

Periods and commas go inside the quotation marks.
“Yes, and I think it looks terrible,” said Aragorn.
In a quote, all the commas and periods are inside the quotation marks.

My three favorite TNG episodes are “Power Play,” “I, Borg,” and “The Nth Degree.”
Even with quoted materials inside of a sentence, all the periods and commas must be inside the quotation marks, even the period at the end of the sentence.

Watson told Mrs. Hudson, “Holmes said, ‘I will take dinner the day after tomorrow at 7:30.'”
You punctuate a quote inside a quote the same way you’d punctuate a normal quote, with all punctuation marks inside all the quotation marks.

Question marks are sometimes inside of quotation marks.
He asked, “Did you hear that Legolas cut his hair?”
In this sentence, the question mark is inside the quotation marks because the question is also the quote.

Is your favorite quote from The Desolation of Smaug trailer “It is our fight”?
In this example, if the question isn’t the quote, but includes a quote, then the question mark goes outside the quotation marks. In other words since the quote isn’t a question, then the question mark is outside the quote.

Did Haldir ask, “Is Legolas okay after loosing his lovely blonde hair?”
Now, if you have a question and a quote all in one, like the example above, no extra question mark is needed, only the one at the end and inside of Haldir’s quoted question.

Sometimes you can throw quotation marks out the window.
Sick of quotation marks now? So am I. Luckily, there are a few instances where you don’t need quotation marks at all.

Captain Picard told Worf to fire when ready.
In this case, since it isn’t a direct quote from Captain Picard, you wouldn’t need to add quotation marks.

Also, if the material you’re quoting is over three lines long, then you can leave off the quotation marks. Of course, then you’ll need to use a colon…but that’s another post. 🙂

Wow! There are a lot of guidelines for using these little marks. Writing this post has clarified the rules for me and made me conscious of some rules I was guilty of breaking. I hope this post, although not exhaustive, has been helpful. And let me dispel any rumors that I might have inadvertently started with my examples above. As far as I know, Legolas has not cut his hair.

Here are two websites that were really helpful to me while writing this post:

~ Kayla


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