In American English, periods go inside quotation marks. However, this is not always the case with exclamation points and question marks. Whether these punctuation marks go inside or outside quotation marks depends on context.
If the quote is a question or exclamation, the punctuation mark goes inside the quotation marks.
Monica asked, “Have you seen my lighter fluid?”
Hank screamed, “Ow! My face is on fire!”
“I can’t believe you sold my baseball cards!” Sarah shouted to her brother.
“How else was I going to fund my start-up company?” her brother asked.
If the quote is not a question or exclamation, the punctuation mark goes outside of the quotation marks. You’ll often see this when someone is referencing something another person said.
Did she tell me to “go jump off a bridge”?
I can’t believe she told me to “enjoy eating some mashed peas”!
Did Paul say that “all you need is love”?
Only a rich guy would say that “all you need is love”!
Test your skills with a quiz. After the sentence is either exclamation point or question mark in parentheses. Choose whether the punctuation mark goes inside our outside of the quotation marks. The answers are at the bottom.
1. I’m so mad she said, “Honey, collate all these papers” (exclamation point)
2. “Could you hand me the large sword” Lily asked. (question mark)
3. Stephanie screamed, “Stop pinching me” (exclamation point)
4. Did you ask me to “stop and smell the roses” (question mark)
5. “How much money do you have in your wallet” Ted asked. (question mark)
6. It’s amazing the doctor said so calmly that he “had two hearts” (exclamation point)
1. outside 2. inside 3. inside 4. outside 5. inside 6. outside
Erin Servais is a freelance copy editor and copywriter. To learn how to hire her for your next project, go to www.dotanddashllc.com.