Quotation Marks with Commas, Periods, Semicolons, Colons, Question Marks, and Exclamation Marks
OK, this one is both easy and complicated. It is easy because the "rule" is very straightforward. It is complicated because the rule is different in England, which wouldn't be a problem if you didn't read so many of those British novels. You can consult the Gregg Reference Manual, The Penguin Dictionary of American Usage and Style, or Writers Inc. They'll all tell you the same thing.
Commas and Periods
Here goes. In America (where you live and write), commas and periods go inside the quotation marks. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about dialogue, phrases, or single words, commas and periods go inside the quotation marks.
Examples (Notice that all of the commas and periods go inside the quotation marks.)
(In England, periods and commas go inside the quotes when they are part of the quote and outside the quotes when they are not part of the quote. Remember. You live in America.)
Colons and Semicolons
In England and America colons and semicolons go outside the quotation marks.
Examples (Notice that all of the colons and semicolons go outside the quotation mark.)
Earlier this year we read "The Most Dangerous Game"; we also read other stories.
The following groups should report to the room marked, "Musicians": horn players, guitarists, singers, harmonica players, and trombonists.
Exclamation Points and Quotation Marks
Exclamation points and question marks go inside the quotation marks when they are part of the quote and outside the quotation marks when they are not part of the quote.
She said, "Do you Love me?"
Did she say, "I love you"?
When the ball dropped through the hoop the crowd roared, "Yay!"
To sum up, in America
See, I told you it was easy.
Note: All of these rules are pretty much the same for quotes within quotes. Of course, you use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.