Depends on what side of the water you’re from on how you punctuate your sentences!

No wonder I have been confused as to my punctuation habits when reading other work. It seems British and American punctuation habits differ. I wonder about other English speaking countries, do they mess about with the original too! Having been schooled in England I have often been confused and assumed I had forgotten what I had been taught. After all it was a long time ago.

Punctuation Errors: American and British Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to set off speech or quoted sentences and words. Despite its simple role, people tend to get confused about the position of other punctuation in relation to the quotation marks. Should it go inside or outside the quotation marks?

It depends. If you are writing in American English, other punctuation should go inside the quotation marks, even if it is not part of the quoted sentence. Here is an example from the New York Times:

“When we have got a contractor city, say, of 180,000 people, and there hasn’t been a completed prosecution of anybody coming out of Iraq, not one,” he said, “what sort of city in America would be like that, where no one is prosecuted for anything for three years? It’s unthinkable.”

If you are writing in British English, on the other hand, punctuation that is not part of the quoted sentence should be place outside the quotation marks. Here is an example from The Telegraph:

A crisis in the US subprime mortgage market will affect Britain, he said, warning that the housing market is likely to weaken as a result. However, he insisted that the economy is starting from “a very strong position”.

8 Responses

  1. I always get confused about that and I never had the English form vs the American form to confuse me to begin with! Just good old punctuation per se that still is -apparently – going to continue to be my nemesis.

  2. Punctuation? Er, no, I’m not Asian. Australian, part Indian, part Scot, but no, not Asian.

    No that I know of, anyway!!!

  3. Very funny David. I must be slow it took me a few seconds to realize what you were talking about.

  4. Whoof!!! I gots my meme thingy up now, Mz Vic. Thanks fur tagging me, Arf!

  5. I believe the English way of do the quotation marks maks a lot more sense.

  6. Hi Vic, this is a nice observation. As for me, I use the American form of punctuation.

    -Saedel

    PS. Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

  7. Well, that clears that up. Now if I can just remember it.

  8. I like the British way better! It never made sense to me to put the punctuation inside the quotation marks when it had nothing to do with what was quoted. Maybe I’ll start doing it your way – and link to this post so everyone can see I’m using correct English grammar.

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