Question Marks and Quotation Marks

My students often hear me insist that periods and commas have to go inside quotation marks, like this: Scott Joplin made musical history with “The Maple Leaf Rag.”

But what about question marks? The answer is that it depends on the sentence.

If the question mark is part of what you’re quoting, put it inside. For example, there’s a famous song called “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” The question mark is part of the song. Put it inside (as I just did).

But the song “Yankee Doodle” doesn’t end in a question mark. If you’re asking a question about the song, put the question mark outside the quotation marks: Do you know all the verses to “Yankee Doodle”?

Let’s try it with a couple of sentences. If someone is asking a question, put the question mark inside: “Where are my gloves?” asked Abigail.

Now compare this sentence: Did Joan just say “I lost my wallet”? There’s no question in Joan’s voice. She was making a statement. Put the question mark outside (as I just did).


2 thoughts on “Question Marks and Quotation Marks

  1. Elizabeth Fike

    This is a super helpful one today, Jean! I often wonder where to put my question mark when using quotation marks. It’s an easy one to remember, as well. You’re improving my writing skills post by post. Thanks, Lisa

  2. ballroomdancer Post author

    Hi, Lisa! One of my friends asked me about question marks in quotations a couple of weeks ago – I thought it might make a useful blog topic. So glad it was helpful! Jean

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