Placing Punctuation with Quotation Marks

Do commas, periods, colons, semi-colons, exclamation points and question marks go before or after quotation marks?


There are many different ways to use quotation marks and, in this tutorial, we’ll look at sentence punctuation in relationship to quotations. In other words, does the comma, period, question mark or exclamation point come before or after the quotation marks?

Rule for commas and periods

With commas and periods, the quotation marks go after the comma or period:

“I love you,” said Mary.

John replied, “I would follow you to the moon.”

Rule for semi-colons and colons

If you’re using a semicolon or colon, you place the quotation marks before the semicolon or colon:

I asked you the “question of the year”: do you love me?

Malcolm was “fit to be tied”; he had just missed the last bus home.

Where to put question marks and exclamation points

With a question or exclamatory sentence, place the quotation marks after the the question mark or exclamation point:

“Do you love me?” asked Mary.

“You do love me!” Mary gushed.


However… if you’re using a question mark or an exclamation point around a specific word, rather than enclosing a sentence, the quotation marks go before.

Do you even know the meaning of the word “love”?

It’s a girl – and her name is “Mary”!




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