Grammatical Issue Regarding Punctuation and Quotations

I always thought that punctuation should be included inside quotations, like in “this example.” Recently I saw on some news channel where they included a question mark outside of the quotes, “like this”? I’m wondering if it is always required that punctuation reside inside quotation marks, meaning the new channel made a slip up (go figure), or if there are certain circumstances in which punctuation is placed after the last quotation mark.

Hot damn, I was just gonna ask that same question.

In American English, commas and periods are always placed inside the quote marks. Question marks and exclamation points, if they are part of the quote, are placed inside the quote marks; if they are not part of the quote, they are placed outside the quote marks. In either case, no additional punctutation follows (i.e., either a period or a question mark – not both).

Examples: Did he say “all SDMB posters are gay”? No, he asked “are all SDMB members gay?” I hope you answered “No”! Actually, I answered “Yes!”

Ok you just reminded me of the other part of my question, which it appears you’ve answered. When you’re quoting someone else, if the other source didn’t have any punctuation for the part you’re quoting, you should put the punctuation outside the quotation marks? For example, let’s say I want to quote “…doctors have found overwhelming evidence that monkeys evolved wings with the power of Red Bull beverage.” and I just use this portion: “…doctors have found overwhelming evidence that monkeys evolved wings.” Would it be wrong for me to put punctuation there (I might put a comma or a period as shown). What would be proper protocol? Here’s how it would fit in my paper, hypothetically: While “doctors have found overwhelming evidence that monkeys evolved wings,” the explanations for such an evolution are specious at best. Would the comma be incorrect in this situation and places after the quotation mark?

and to the skateboard guy, that’s a funny coincidence, eh?

When I have grammar questions and the like, I usually turn to this site. There you’ll find this page, which addresses your question. In the event you want the short answer, the site states that, in the US, punctuation goes inside the quotation marks regardless of logic. In the UK and we here in Canada tend to follow a more logical placement, in the manner that Nametag described.

Apologies for my mis-quote. In the US, commas and periods go inside quotation marks, regardless of logic. Other punctuation follows other rules. I shoulda just linked and left it at that.

Thanks, Morkfromork, that was the answer I was looking for. I should probably have not been so lazy and just found the answer myself. I’m curious as to how these rules align with APA and MLA standards.

AFAIK, the rules are the same in any US usage. British usage, OTOH, puts the punctuation outside the quotes.

From the Jargon File:

The American standard is counter-intuitive and misleading. You have my permission to violate it with impunity. (Do I really need to add a smiley to that?)

Personally, I’ve taken to following the logic in Morkfromork’s first post. If the puntuation is part of the quote, I place it inside the quotation marks, if not it goes outside. To me, this is more readable and less likely to cause confusion in some cases, such as I cannot believe she said “I have 30 cats”! where the emphasis is meant to be that of the author and not that of the quoted party.

Oh, I agree – the American style is idiotic. The flexibility and logic of British punctuation is even greater than we’ve seen here. However, Q.E.D., your example is not a good one – with exclamation points and question marks, the American style is as you describe. Only periods and commas are invariably placed inside of quote marks.

So noted. Thank you. I follow similar logical “rules” with commas and periods, as well.

The American standard is counter-intuitive and misleading - and hard to read. I’ve never seen a usability test where the American standard was the easiest to read - even though the readers were Americans and accustomed to that style!

At this point in history, grammar and style seem to be the province of graphic designers, so we’re all doomed.

It should also be pointed out that the current (American standard usage) rules are merely conventions of relatively recent invention. As a child in grammar school (in the U.S., early '60s) I was taught the very logical convention that punctuation goes inside the quotes only if it was a part of the original material being quoted. I still write that way, and always will, and I say to hell with any newfangled johnny-come-lately “rules” that are merely part of the steady dumbing-down of American English, invented by gum-chewing dullards and slack-jawed dimwits who received their literary education from T-shirts, bumper stickers, and television news programs.

(And I hope that I will never be heard to use “hopefully” to mean “I hope”, “impact” to mean “affect”, or “interface” as a verb.)

Actually, when you quote only a portion of the original (complete) text or speech, you should use ellipsis marks to denote that fact. Your quote would read as follows:

“…doctors have found overwhelming evidence that monkeys evolved wings…”, etc.

The comma after the quote above is only necessary to fit the flow of your paragraph in which that quote is embedded - the quote itself stands on its own with ellipsis marks at beginning and end, to denote that the quote is a subset of a larger original.

-FK