Writing Glitch #360

Today’s glitch:


This glitch is a good one to show when to put end punctuation inside the double quotes and when to put it outside.

What do you mean, “I can’t believe you read the whole book already!”? What are you supposed to do once it’s open?

Notice that the exclamation point goes inside the quotes, but the question mark goes outside. That’s because the exclamation is what’s being quoted by the speaker, but the question is how/why they’re repeating it (asking what the exclamation means).

Under most circumstances, the use of both a question mark and an exclamation point on the same sentence is discouraged. If you need to indicate that a question is asked with particularly strong feeling or emphasis, italicize it.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to Writing Glitch #360

  1. Thanks for the tutorial. It always freaks me out when I see !? together like that, even though I understand why the writer did it. I’ve even done it a couple of times myself, because I saw other people do it and thought maybe they are right. And no, I wouldn’t jump off a cliff because everybody else is doing it 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The annoying parent-ism I always heard as a kid was, “Why do you refuse to [jump off a cliff, as I saw it] when all the normal kids are doing it?”

      I think the combination of question mark with exclamation point (at least it’s not an interrobang!) may be due to many journalists these days refusing to use italics at all (not even for titles of books or movies!), so they use the combined punctuation to indicate a question asked emphatically.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. curioushart says:

    Quotation marks are my particular stumbling block. I agonize over when they are an “innie” or an “outie.” This post really helps.

    Liked by 1 person

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