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When Does a Question Mark Go Outside of Quotation Marks?

Placement depends on whether the punctuation is part of the quoted material.

In English grammar, the placement of punctuation marks with quotation marks depends on whether the punctuation is part of the quoted material or the larger sentence. The general rules for placing question marks in relation to quotation marks are as follows:

1. Question Marks Inside Quotation Marks:

  • When a quoted sentence or phrase is a complete sentence on its own, the closing question mark goes inside the quotation marks.

  • Example: Candy asked, "Where is Mrs. Gulligan?"

2. Question Marks Outside Quotation Marks:

  • If the punctuation is not part of the quoted material and the larger sentence continues after the quotation, the question marks goes outside the quotation marks.

  • Example: Did Candy really say, "My boyfriend is Elijah Nole"?

  • Note: This is more common in British English, where the punctuation is often placed outside the quotation marks unless it is an integral part of the quoted material.

It's essential to note that these rules may vary slightly between American English and British English, with American English typically placing punctuation inside the quotation marks more consistently. Always follow the specific style guide or conventions you are using for your writing to ensure consistency and accuracy.

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