General Writing and Grammar Help/Comma Before Quotation


Hi Deborah,

I'm questioning the use of commas before the quotation in each sentence. Are these correct?

In better times, the quintessential American question was, "What do you do for a living?"

Today, the question is likely to be, "Are you working?"



Hello Peggy,

The question mark should go within the quotation if the punctuation applies to the quote itself (as in your first example-although this is a question within a question).

If the question applies to the whole sentence, the question marks should go outside of the quotation mark.  An example would be: Who wrote the "Pledge of Allegience"?  

I believe both of your examples are correct.

Dr. D  

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Deborah Burgess


Essays--I can assist students with questions concerning the process of writing an essay including preparation of an outline, development of a topic, development of the thesis statement and topic sentences, and paragraph development. I can assist students in helping them determine the proper rhetorical modes for their essay (narration, illustration, description, process analysis, comparison and contrast, and argumentation. I am able to answer questions concerning rules of style for a research paper including referencing sources. I am able to address questions regarding punctuation and grammar.


I teach a writing workshop for the University of Phoenix (Richmond Campus) and two college courses: Essentials of College Writing and Elements of Composition.

Doctor of Management--University of Phoenix Masters in Human Resources--George Washington University B.A.--French and Linguistics, Oakland University

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