Do Question marks go before or after speech marks


Do question marks go before or after speech marks?

asked Apr 18 '12 at 03:25 Anna New member

4 answers


American English and Brittish English follow different rules on this. Being an American I use the American English rule that says, "All punctuation is placed inside the quotes."


(This is not a real quote, just an example.)

link answered Apr 18 '12 at 04:51 Tony Proano Expert

Well .... I'd say its more of a generality rather than a hard rule in American English. Please see my post in the FEATURED thread for the assorted variations of the rule. It all depends on which style guide you are following.

Jeff PribylApr 18 '12 at 05:19

I couldn't think of a better word for it.....'suggestion' just seems too weak. I will read your post. I'm always looking to improve my grammar knowledge. (Hence, I am here!)

Tony ProanoApr 18 '12 at 08:02

Why did this get a down vote? It is not WRONG, it is not BAD ADVICE... it is not deserving of a DOWN VOTE simply because another answer is more correct, or more informative. That one would deserve an UP VOTE, but don't knock me for giving "not perfectly, exactly correct information for every possible situation" when it does correctly answer the question.

Tony ProanoApr 18 '12 at 08:12

Tony, there be trolls here who are always ready with the down vote. I got one last night for suggest Rayan submit a rewrite that broke his 115-word first sentence into 4-5 sentences before we looked at the wording and punctuation. Rayan's recent questions were all plagued by the same problems and I felt we were doing his work for him again and again. Rayan made changes and resubmitted. But somedody else felt it was worth a down vote.

Jeff PribylApr 18 '12 at 13:27

I've experienced in certain cases DOWNVOTE is not proper but used. May be that answer was not proper according to one, personally, but it doesn't mean that it should be downvoted.

Rahul GuptaApr 18 '12 at 15:24

Don't worry about it, Tony. I've been down voted several times after giving cited answers. The trolls are alive and well. As much as we want to punch the bully in the throat it is more effective to ignore him. Cheers.

TolleyApr 18 '12 at 17:16

Yeah, I don't know how I could have forgotten...Here Be Trolls. If grammarly would tell us who voted which way, I wonder if it would be reduced.

Tony ProanoApr 18 '12 at 17:50

Aye, here there be trolls..."Who's that tripping over my grammar? Now, I'm coming to gobble you up!"

Dirk PittApr 18 '12 at 20:16

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It depends.  Are you using American English or British English? Is the question mark part of the quote or something you have added?  If you are writing for American audiences, which style guide are you following?


There is lengthy post on the FEATURED: WRITING TIPS & TRICKS that describes the different rules set by the different style guides for American English.


American and British English (and all the style guides) agree on one point only. If the original quote included the question mark, the question mark goes inside the quotation mark. Webster exclaimed, "when will this ever end?"  But, if you add the question mark, it goes outside the quotation mark.  Did Webster really say, "I will beat the devil"?


Beyond this single point of agreement, British and American standards disagree. Generally, British English places punctuation outside the quote mark while American English places the punctuation within the quote mark.


The FEATURED TIPS post provides more information.

link comment answered Apr 18 '12 at 05:06 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I didnot find any such rule in British English.

Here also we put question mark before quotation mark.

link answered Apr 18 '12 at 05:04 Rahul Gupta Expert

Oh yes. British English and American English follow very different "rules" for the placement of punctuation and quotation marks. Grammarly Blog contains an amusing essay dated 13 February 2012 of the controversy from the British English viewpoint. Please see my answer below and a more detailed post in the FEATURED: WRITING TIPS & TRICKS thread.

Jeff PribylApr 18 '12 at 05:15

Oh, thanks.

Rahul GuptaApr 18 '12 at 11:28

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They go before the speech marks.

link comment answered May 21 '12 at 08:30 Maxine New member

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