1. vanilla16
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    vanilla16 Member

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    Does the em dash have to go inside or outside the quotation marks? :)

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by vanilla16, May 14, 2012.

    Mm-hmm, like should it be . . .

    "Althought these"—she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures"—don't meet the criteria for art."

    or

    "Althought these"—she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures—"don't meet the criteria for art."

    :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Neither is correct. This is a pause in the dialogue, not an interruption, so you use ellipses, not an em-dash.
    Note that the narration in the middle is a beat, not a dialogue tag. A beat is a separate sentence, so the first word (She) must be capitalized. The ellipses, and the pause they denote, are part of the dialog, not the narration, so the ellipses belong inside the quotation marks.
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cog, don't you mean:
    "Although these..." she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures "...don't meet the criteria for art."
    or is this a US/UK difference again? I'd say the part between the two spoken bits is a continuation of the sentence, not another sentence.

    The below is also used and is perfectly correct. It conveys more abrupt transition. You can google em dash in dialogue for further examples, where the dash is outside the speech marks. However, I'm not sure that in your example the transition needs to be so abrupt.
    "Although these"—she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures—"don't meet the criteria for art."
     
  4. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    I think that sentence looks very odd, and wouldn't use either the em dash or ellipses for this. What's wrong with the old-fashioned comma here?

    "Although these," she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures, "don't meet the criteria for art."
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nope. As I said above, the fragment in the middle:
    is not a dialogue tag. A dialogue tag requires a speech verb, such as said, replied, or asked, and a noun or pronoun identifying the speaker.

    The fragment is a beat, an action by taken the speaker, appearing adjacent to a speech fragment.

    A dialogue tag is a part of the sentence containing the dialogue fragment(s) to which it is joined, and the join is typically with a comma. Because the dialogue tag is part of the same sentence, a dialogue tag following a dialogue fragment does not begin with a capitalized word.

    A beat, however, is a separate sentence, not part of the sentence containing the adjacent dialogue fragment. Because a beat is a separate sentence, the first word is always capitalized.
     
  6. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    Kind of a moot point anyway in the cited sentence, since the dialogue reveals that she is already looking at the object in question before the action beat describes her starting to look at the the object.

    So Cogito, a better example would be:

    "Although these..." She scanned along the row of beeswax sculptures "...don't meet the criteria for art."

    Yes?

    Edit, oh yes:

    "Although these..." She scanned along the row of beeswax sculptures. "...don't meet the criteria for art."
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't forget the period after sculptures. The beat is a separate sentence.

    I'm not debating the choice of verb in the beat. The question here is syntax, not semantics, other than the semantic analysis required to resolve the syntax.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thinking of changing these from beats to tags, I find myself surprisingly confused. Am I right that the below are right?

    "Although these," she said, looking at the row of beeswax sculptures, "don't meet the criteria for art."

    "Although these..." she said, looking at the row of beeswax sculptures, "...don't meet the criteria for art."

    "I'm not doing it--" she said, looking at the row of beeswax sculptures, "--not until someone convinces me that these things are art."
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is not what every authority says, though. Compare these:

    She agreed--she knew he wouldn't listen to reason--and said it was a great idea.
    'I agree'--she knew he wouldn't listen to reason--'it's a great idea.'

    The part between the dashes is clearly, in both sentences, a continuation of the sentence, and as such you can't capitalize either what you call the 'beat' or the last part/bit of dialogue. It's an interruption.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Completely different situation.

    is a parenthetical phrase, separated out by em-dashes. Breaking out of dialogue to narrate a parenthetical phrase simply does not parse in English. The closest equivalent is the beat, but that is a separate sentence, and you have to deal with snapping the dialogue fragment into two pieces as well.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to call a completely separate sentence that is not dialog 'a continuation of the sentence' when the 'sentence' is dialog and the 'interruption' is narrative, makes no sense at all to me...
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the clarification.
    @ mamma: It's because it isn't a completely different sentence, but is part of the sentence. A sentence doesn't always just have the dialogue in it.
     

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