Inside or outside: question marks, exclamation points, and quotation marks

How dare you say that this photo of Blossom “doesn’t make sense with the blog post”!

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.

Examples:
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.

Examples:
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”!

Quiz
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.

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Number vs. amount

Lesson: when to use number and amount in sentences

The words number and amount are used in different situations.

Use number with things you can count (count nouns).

Use amount with things you can’t count (mass nouns).

For instance, you can count snakes, so snakes is a count noun. That means you would use the word number to go with them. Example: The number of snakes in this room is fifteen.

However, hatred is something you can’t count, since hatred is a mass noun. So you would use the word amount to go with it. Example: The amount of hatred I have for snakes has lessened.

Let’s look at a couple more examples:

Frida counted the number of marshmallows in the bag.
Frida measured the amount of sugar she needed for the recipe.

(Since Frida can count the marshmallows, we use number. Since she can’t count individual pieces of sugar, we use amount.)

For some extra help, here are examples of count nouns you would use number with and mass nouns you would use amount with:

number of cats amount of envy
number of paintings amount of sand
number of fried eggs amount of obsession
number of books amount of milk
number of bad grades amount of experience
number of salad bowls amount of news
number of nerds amount of failure
number of events amount of hilarity
number of aliases amount of water
number of bowel movements amount of urine

Quiz
Test your skills with this quiz. Fill in either number or amount in the blanks. The answers are at the bottom.

1. Kenny feels proud about the _______ of pencils in his collection.
2. Stacy wondered the _______ of speeding tickets she could get before she went to jail.
3. Connie was alarmed at the _______ of violence in her neighborhood.
4. Lenny wants to know the _______ of marbles he can fit in his mouth.
5. Tracy walked out of class to protest the _______ of preference given to athletes.
6. Lacy underestimated the _______ of work it takes to be a marine biologist.

1. number 2. number 3. amount 4. number 5. amount 6. amount

Want more help with mass nouns?
Check out this Grammar Party post about using mass nouns.