Punctuation within and without quotation marks

by compound complex 73 Replies latest social physical

  • FlyingHighNow

    And then there is the dilemma of where to place punctuation marks when using these: ( ).

  • Jeffro
    And then there is the dilemma of where to place punctuation marks when using these: ( ).

    It's quite simple (as I'll demonstrate).

    (If the sentence is fully within parentheses, the full stop [period] is also within; otherwise the full stop goes outside, as above.)

  • FlyingHighNow

    Next dilemma, when do you use these [ ] within thse ( )?

  • compound complex
    compound complex

    Use brackets in sentences where you want to put parentheses within parentheses. Since two parentheses in a row would be confusing, you bookend your parentheses with brackets. So, the order is opening parenthesis, opening bracket, closing bracket, closing parenthesis. For example, you would write "They are getting married (they love each other [of course!])."*


    Good questions, FHN, and thanks for your input, Jeffro!

  • compound complex
    compound complex

    Commas within quotes:

    The most common question people ask about quotation marks is whether periods and commas go inside or outside, and the answer depends on where your audience lives because in American English we always put periods and commas inside quotation marks, but in British English periods and commas can go inside or outside.

  • Diogenesister

    Co.Co. when inside and when outside? I always thought it depended, as with parenthesis, whether the sentence is whole within the speech marks or extends outside of, too.

    Did I make sense? I have boys at SATS age is why I want to be sure.

  • TerryWalstrom

    Here is how I see it; no sentence is inevitable.
    The author decides.
    If I'm writing a difficult thing, one engendering a struggle, I simply rethink the sentence and rewrite it.
    Problem solved.

  • compound complex
    compound complex

    Thanks, Diogenesister and Terry, for your replies.

    Good philosophy, Terry! When I first began editing (you were one of my first "clients"), I was less aware than I am now. Rewriting, with an aim towards simplicity, can eliminate complex structures that demand extraordinary punctuation. I, for one, now tend towards clarity and simplicity. Not so in my youthful prolixity.


    Perusing books and periodicals in my country (USA), I have found that, virtually without exception, periods and commas always fall within the close of both single and double quotation marks. Question and exclamation marks may be within or without (outside) the close of quotation marks; it depends whether the question or exclamation is, or is not, part of the quotation.

  • compound complex
    compound complex


    The Finale (Allegro molto vivace) was the movement in which Schumann said that for the first time since his illness started he “began to feel like myself again.”

    The rhythm of this march-theme (a long note followed by a dotted rhythm) appears so frequently in his music that some commentators call it the “Schumann rhythm.”

    The Symphony in C Major was the first major piece undertaken in this new way of working. It was actually Schumann’s fourth work in the genre, preceded by the “Spring,” the first version of the D minor Symphony, later to become his Fourth, and his Sinfonietta,” (the Overture, Scherzo and Finale.)

    The result is a quotation of the final song of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the Immortal Beloved), where Beethoven sets the words “Take them then, these songs.”

  • compound complex
    compound complex

    This is one time when you don't have to feel ignorant because you don't understand what Shakespeare really meant. Although he invented "sticking place," and though our usage derives directly from this scene, Shakespeare never explains what the phrase means.

    Macbeth still has cold feet; he and his wife have agreed to kill King Duncan of Scotland, but he can't stop thinking of all the consequences the deed might not trammel up [see THE BE-ALL AND THE END-ALL]. Lady Macbeth, after impugning her husband's manliness, urges him, as we might say, to "screw up his courage." The OED suggests that Lady Macbeth's original words refer to the twisting of a tuning peg until it becomes set in its hole. The editor of The Riverside Shakespeare, on the other hand, suggests that a "sticking place" is "the mark to which a soldier screwed up the cord of a crossbow." Whether the metaphor is musical, martial, or otherwise, Lady Macbeth's meaning is obvious though her words are obscure: "tighten up your courage until it is fixed in the place necessary for the murder of Duncan."


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