Asked • 07/03/19

Punctuation within quotes?

When I was at school I was told that a quote should end with a comma. For example: > "The car is on the road," said Tom. "No it isn't," replied Dick. "He's right — it's over there!" said Harry. However, I've recently been advised that this is not correct, and that the preceding text should read: > "The car is on the road." said Tom. "No it isn't." replied Dick. "He's right — it's over there!" said Harry. I'm specifically interested in British English — can anyone tell me if either/both of these are correct? EDIT From the answers below, it seems like this depends on what follows. For example: > "The car is on the road," said Tom But > Tom said, "The car is on the road." Is this correct?

Bill B.

Great question! Yes, you are correct about using a period within a quotation, as long as it marks the end of a sentence. As for ellipses, I think it depends on what style-guide you use and what kind of writing this is. Formally, you use ellipses to indicate that words have been removed from a sentence. Informally, you use them for effect, to indicate the speaker has paused. Here’s a good article about it, from the point of view of the AP Style. Note there are many style guides, often more than one for every genre, profession, field of study and publication. So, if you are writing a piece to submit, you need to first ask what style guide they use. Forgive me if you already knew that. I don’t have my trusty Elements of Style with me, but I see an alleged quote from it on a discussion about how many dots ellipses should have on the Straight Dope website. "The ellipsis itself is three periods (always); it can appear next to other punctuation, including an end-of-sentence period (resulting in four periods). Use four only when the words on either side of the ellipsis make full sentences. You should never use fewer than three nor more than four periods, with only a single exception: when entire lines of poetry are omitted in a block quotation, it's a common practice to replace them with a full line of spaced periods."


1 Expert Answer


Prathna M. answered • 07/04/19

5 (3)

Patient and Knowledgeable English, ESL, and Psychology Tutor

Still looking for help? Get the right answer, fast.

Ask a question for free

Get a free answer to a quick problem.
Most questions answered within 4 hours.


Find an Online Tutor Now

Choose an expert and meet online. No packages or subscriptions, pay only for the time you need.