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  1. #1
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    Question Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    I said to her, "I love you." / "I love you," I said.
    They are right, aren' they?

    Is it also correct to write?
    I said to her, "I love you". / "I love you", I said.

    I know they are very subtle different, but if they are wrong, why?

  2. #2
    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    I think this is a difference between British and American styles. In the UK we would put punctuation like that outside the quotes. I believe that Americans include it within the quotes.

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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    Thank you very much for your quick answer.
    However, these following sentences are found in Monsignor Quixote written by Graham Greene.

    As they set off he said,"I was a little foolish last night, Sancho."
    "Ah, poor Teresa," Father Quixote said.

    You have convinced me once, but I am still at a loss how to answer the question a student asked me today.

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    I wouldn't put the punctuation outside in direct speech, but would do so in quotations, though this is a feature of British English not American English. When the punctaution belongs more to the sentence than the quote, I put it outside.

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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    Thank you, tdol. So, you mean some - or many? - people in the UK put the punctuation inside like people who use American English but some people don't. They put it outside. Am I right?
    Now I'd like to know when the punctuation belongs more to the sentence than the quote. Please let me know.
    The student who asked me this question is eager to know why it can be OK for punctuation marks to come inside the second set of quotation marks. She wants to know the reason. She says you need two periods before and after the second set of quotation marks. She says a sentence should end in a period, not a quotation mark.
    Do you understand my poor English?

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    Dandelion is offline Member
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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    In American English:

    Place periods and commas inside quotation marks.
    "This is a hold-up," said the well-dressed man. "I want all your money."
    Put colons and semicolons outside quotation marks.
    Harold wrote, "I regret that I am unable to attend the fundraiser"; his letter, however, contained a substantial contribution.

    Put question marks and exclamation points inside quotation marks unless they apply to the sentence as a whole.
    Contrary to tradition, bedtime at my house is marked by "Mommy, can I tell you a story now?"
    Have you heard the old proverb "Do not climb the hill until you reach it"?
    In the first sentence, the question mark applies only to the quoted question. In the second sentence, the question mark applies to the whole sentence.

    Source: A Writer's Reference by Diana Hacker

    Hope this helps.

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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    Iím sorry that Iím annoying you all with such trifle questions.
    Thank you very much, Dandelion. Your answers help a lot.

    However, I still have questions.
    Which of these following sentences is right or common?
    No.1 Did you say, ďAre you listening to me?Ē
    No.2 Did you say, ďAre you listening to meĒ?
    No.3 Did you say, ďAre you listening to me?Ē?

    And one more question about a period that applies to the whole sentence.
    People write this way.
    I thought, ďItís all over now.Ē
    But where is the period which applies to the whole sentence?
    Itís gone somewhere, hasnít it? (isn't it?)

  8. #8
    Dandelion is offline Member
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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    [QUOTE=Sstupid]Iím sorry that Iím annoying you all with such trifle questions.
    Thank you very much, Dandelion. Your answers help a lot.


    You are not annoying me at all. I am happy to help you.

    RULES
    1) The question mark or exclamation point is placed inside (before) the quotation marks IF it is a part of the quotation.
    2) The question mark or exclamation point is placed outside (after) the quotation marks IF it applies to the whole sentence.
    3) The period or comma is ALWAYS placed before the quotation marks.
    4) The semicolon is placed outside the quotation marks.

    1) She asked, "Are you ill?"
    2) Did John say, "Wait until tomorrow"?
    3)"The music was beautiful," she remarked.
    3) She remarked, "The music was beautiful."
    4) Said, "Don't wait for me"; then he turned and walked away.

    NOTE: If both the main clause and the quotation are interrogative, only one question mark is used:

    Did Fred ask, "Where have you been?"

    Now to answer your questions.

    However, I still have questions.
    Which of these following sentences is right or common?
    No.1 Did you say, ďAre you listening to me?Ē
    No.2 Did you say, ďAre you listening to meĒ?
    No.3 Did you say, ďAre you listening to me?Ē?

    Only No.1 is correct. (See NOTE above to understand why.)

    And one more question about a period that applies to the whole sentence.
    People write this way.
    I thought, ďItís all over now.Ē

    Look at rule no.3 above. Your example is correct.

    But where is the period which applies to the whole sentence?
    Your example is a direct quotation.

    Compare: He said, "John is here." (The period applies to the quotation)
    I heard him say, "John is here." (The period applies to the
    sentence as a whole.) It makes no difference in this case. A
    comma or period is ALWAYS placed before the quotation marks.


    Itís gone somewhere, hasnít it? (isn't it?)
    It's (it has) gone somewhere, hasn't it?

    Maybe to "Grammarland"?

    Okay?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    Thank you veru much, REd5, tdol, and Dandelion.
    All of your answers helped a lot.
    Now I think I understand.

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Why is a comma or a period before a quatation mark?

    I'd say that most BrE speakers will happily put punctuation outside quotes. Look at this example:

    In his recent speeches, President Bush has spoken of the need for 'freedom from tyranny'.
    I'm happier with the punctuation outside becase the quote does not control the grammar of the sentence; I could continue if I wanted; I am ending the sentence, not the quote. That's how I decide.

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