Question Marks and Quotation Marks? What goes where?

The Final Jeopardy "answer" on last evening's broadcast of JEOPARDY! was a good one.  It had to do with the institution of Miranda rights, which were introduced in 1966.  The "question" was supposed to give the first seven words of the Miranda warning police recite to a suspect.  Here is what one of the contestants wrote:

What is "You have the right to remain silent?"

This was the correct "question," and all three contestants got it.  Pretty much anyone who has watched police shows over the past 40 years would know this, and the current champion bet enough money to win with it.  However, as written on his electronic answer pad, the punctuation was incorrect.

The rule is that a question mark only goes inside the quotation marks when what is quoted is a question.  In this case, what is inside the quotation marks is a statement.  Therefore, the question mark goes outside the quotation marks.  It should be written this way:

What is "You have the right to remain silent"?

 

 NOTE: This rule holds true for exclamation points as well as question marks.  As I have noted in other posts, the period and the comma ALWAYS go inside the quotation marks.

COMMENT: I don't make these rules, which can be confusing.  I just try to remind readers so they can use them correctly.

 


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