Posted by: Idioma Extra | August 5, 2010

Thursday Tidbits

Punctuation with Quotation marks

One overlooked aspect of English grammar among second language learners is punctuation; specifically, using periods, commas, question marks, and exclamation marks with quotation marks is difficult. Quotation marks are used in several contexts:

1.  To quote someone else, using his or her exact words

2. To indicate sarcasm or irony

3. To indicate the title of songs, short works or stories

4. To use a word that does not fit into the structure of a sentence

Even native English speakers often make mistakes regarding the use of punctuation with quotation marks. Following the simple explanations below will help you become a more effective writer in English.

Quotation marks with periods and commas

The rule is simple. A period or comma always goes inside the quotation marks. A few examples:

She said, “I’m not going with you.”

The employee said he was “sick,” but I’m pretty sure he went to the beach.

My favorite word in the English language is “smitten.”

Quotation marks with question and exclamation marks

In this case, the question mark or exclamation mark goes inside the quotation mark when the actual quote is a question or exclamation. Here are a few examples:

James asked, “Are we there yet?”

The police officer yelled, “Stop!”

However, when the entire sentence is a question or exclamation, the punctuation goes outside the quotation mark.  Look at the following examples:

Do you know the meaning of the word “delouse”?

I can’t stand the movie “Titanic”!

Test Yourself

Look at the following examples and see if you can put the punctuation (period, comma, question mark, or exclamation) in the right place. In some cases, more than one type of punctuation may be possible.

1. After I missed work for five consecutive days, my boss told me, “You’d better not be late again __”__

2. Would you mind helping me with a “problem__”__

3. I used to like the song “Purple Rain__”__ but I listened to it so much that I no longer like it.

4. When I was young my father always used to tell me, “Clean your room__”__

5. What do you think he meant when he said, “I have no recollection, Senator__”__

6. Every time I walk downtown people asked me, “Do you have change__”__

7. “Have you seen her__”__ from what I remember, was a popular Motown song by The Temptations.

8. I was wondering if you could tell me the meaning of the word “regret__”__

Answers to Last Week’s Test Yourself

1. He threatened _to_ quit his job if he didn’t get a raise.
2. It’s difficult to find good friends that you can rely _on__.
3. Last night I dreamed _about_ traveling to outer space.
4. Lately, I’m so fed up _with_ all the slow lines at the super market.
5. He’ always bragging _about_ how much money he makes.
6. Don’t hesitate _to_ call me if you have any problems.
7. It took me 3 hours _to_ get from here to the beach.
8. Most people dress _in_ black for a funeral.
9. All the children were making fun _of_ him.


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