Quotation Marks and Punctuation: A Guide
anonymous asked: does the comma go before or after the quotation mark, like “That’s good, Sarah,” he said and glanced at her. OR: “That’s good, Sarah”, he said and glanced at her.
Okay, time to cross something off of our article lists. I’m here to share the joys of using proper quotation marks and how to use them with different types of punctuation. Now with a bunch of examples!
We all have problems with quotation marks now and then. They’re tricky little devils, especially when you’re dealing with commas and other punctuation.
I would say about nine times out of ten, punctuation goes inside of the quotation marks. That’s because you’re using it as a complete thought. For example:
"Tim, have you seen the dog lately?" she asked.
The sentence normally would be built outside of quotations as: Tim, have you seen the dog lately? Keeping that in mind, the writer needs to preserve the integrity of that original sentence, keeping all punctuation together and attached. This applies to exclamation points, question marks, commas and the occasional period [because even though Grammar Law says you aren’t supposed to end dialogue with a period, you’re a rebel].
"Tim, there is the dog!"
"We found him," he said.
The same rule applies when you move the ‘she asked' into the middle of the sentence:
"Tim," she asked, “have you seen the dog lately?”
Here, notice that the comma after ‘Tim’ remains within the quotation marks, and the ‘have’ remains uncapitalzed. That’s because the phrase isn’t broken, and ‘she asked’ is being used as an interjection. Since it’s an interjection, however, you need to have the comma after ‘asked’. When ‘Tim' is used separate from the sentence, however, punctation placement doesn't change. 'Have' becomes capitalized, and there is now a period after 'asked’.
"Tim," she asked. "Have you seen the dog lately?"
Pretty simple, right?
This is English we’re talking about, and there are always exceptions to the rules. In this case, there are two main exceptions.
The first is when the quotation is being used in the middle of a sentence and not really being used as dialogue. More like an interjection of sorts. Here are a few examples:
Tim thought he heard something along the lines of “Have you seen the dog lately?”, but he wasn’t sure. He thought he heard a “Tim!”, too. Or maybe a “Get over here”, but he didn’t know for certain.
Notice here that while the exclamation point and the question mark remain within the quotation marks, there is punctuation outside of them. This is because the punctuation outside goes with the over-all structure of the sentence, and not the quotation itself. However, any sentence ending with a comma or a period generally loses its ending punctuation.
The second is in writing anything in MLA-format that involves citation. Now, this is a very specific thing, but since I figure a lot of you might be students, I’ll throw it in, too.
When you’re directly quoting something in an essay, ending punctuation will go outside of the quotation marks and after the citation. Example:
“‘It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before” (Fitzgerald 92).
There you have it, folks. Your guide to quotation marks.
[Also, for the Anon: the first one is correct.]