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  1. #1
    Iliana Guest

    Default Semicolons and Quotes

    While it is true that commas are placed prior to the ending quote symbol (e.g., "5," "6," etc.) what about a phrase that ends with a semicolon and quotes. Example: She said it was "magnificent";

    Does the ; go inside or outside the quote? It sure does look better on the outside. Does someone know?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    In British English, we are flexible about punctuation in quotes- we can put it inside or outside according to where we feel it goes best.

  3. #3
    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    I would say that if the quote is from a written source then the punctuation should be within the quote as it was in the original. Otherwise, I agree with TDOL.
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  4. #4
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Semicolons and Quotes

    Most style guides in the USA probably say you should put it on the outside, but I agree with putting it on the inside.

    8)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Semicolons and Quotes

    Have a look at this:
    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handou...r/g_quote.html

    I've read that the Americans put commas, full stops etc. outside quotation marks, while Brits put them inside. I've always put them inside, and I'm not even British! I'm just confused.....

  6. #6
    John D Guest

    Default Re: Semicolons and Quotes

    Hi everyone :) ,

    So I grabbed a couple of books just to see where the Brits and the Americans were putting their commas, full stops etc. One of them was Rice by Su Tong, translated by Howard Goldblatt.

    Guess what? Rice had no punctuation (speech) marks in... at all. I had read it and never noticed. Just goes to show how complacent one can become, I must have put the speech marks in myself, without seeing them.



    John D.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red5
    I would say that if the quote is from a written source then the punctuation should be within the quote as it was in the original. Otherwise, I agree with TDOL.
    I still say that you can be flexible here and do what suits your sentence best.

  8. #8
    John D Guest

    Default Re: Semicolons and Quotes

    Hi lliana,

    In your example the semicolon needs to be outside the quotation marks. The semicolon has no part in what she actually quoted. The semicolon will be used as the indication a short pause is to be taken before continuing to (read) the rest of the sentence.

    John D.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    I agree with you, John- for me, the only time the question of punctuation inside arises is when you're quoting a phrase, which may contain punctuation and then it's a question of fitting it into the sentence.

  10. #10
    Confucius Guest

    Default Re: Semicolons and Quotes

    If you use Microsoft Words, the program will tell you when to use Semicolons, so i never worry about it. :o

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