“How do you know where the punctuation goes?” asked the translator.

While completing the proofreading of a translated text, I noticed that the original text had the same apparent error as its translation: commas were always placed outside the quotation marks.  It looked odd.  So, I dug out my trusty reference, Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition, Fifth Course, and here is what it said:

Commas and periods are always placed inside the closing quotation marks.

EXAMPLE  “On the other hand,” he said, “your decision may be the correct one.”

Semicolons and colons are always placed outside the closing quotation marks.

EXAMPLE  My neighbor said, “Of course I’ll buy a magazine subscription”; it was lucky I asked her on payday.

Lots of us professionals are unaware of this rule, as anyone who has read the proz.com job listings lately may have noticed.  Hence this small post, with thanks to John E. Warriner.





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