Hamlet said, ‘To be, or not to be’. The question in this case, however, is about the placing of the

I thought I would take the opportunity occasionally to discuss punctuation. I know Lynne Truss has covered the subject pretty well in Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but nonetheless my blog gives me an entirely selfish opportunity to ‘sound off’ about punctuation issues that vex me. No one I speak to seems entirely sure about the positioning of the full stop when a sentence ends with some speech enclosed within quotation marks. Some have suggested that, if the speech is an entire sentence in its own right, eg She yawned and said, ‘I’m off for an early morning swim’ then the full stop should appear inside the final speech mark, thus: She yawned and said, ‘I’m off for an early morning swim.’ I disagree with this. In my view, if the speech forms part of – and ends – a longer sentence, then the full stop should always be the last thing to appear in that sentence, ie outside the final speech mark. She yawned and said, ‘I’m off for an early morning swim’. I know it looks odd but my rationale is that if a full stop indicates the end of the sentence, it must come at the end of the whole sentence. I have to confess that this conviction only comes from distant memories of grammar and punctuation lessons at school. Thankfully this not on Twitter so can put my head above the parapet without attracting an avalanche of opposing views.

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