1. g_man526
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    g_man526 Member

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    From a piece of dialogue: Nested Quotations!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by g_man526, Apr 24, 2013.

    I have always, always had trouble with this, so I will simply cut to the chase:

    “You’re seriously going to make one of us say ‘what?'"

    or

    “You’re seriously going to make one of us say ‘what'?"

    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is the speaker really saying that the pther person wants them to say "What"? Or is your "what" because the speaker can't hear/understand/believe what they are being told to say, in which case the "what" isn't a quotation. It could be in italics for emphasis.
    If "what" is a direct quotation, in British English it should be:
    'You’re seriously going to make one of us say "what"?'
    I'll let an American give you the norm for the US. It's reversed, with "" for direct speech, and '' for quotation. The 'What' would have a capital W as well, if you are actually quoting and not just being emphatic here. The rationale, or lack of rationale, for US punctuation always confuses me. It seems to be based on typographic concerns rather than meaning.
     
  3. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    You need to clarify what you mean by what.

    What = something already said, or, - [quotes not required - use italics for emphasis]
    'You want us to repeat what?' Or, 'You want us to repeat what?'

    = something misunderstood, or, - [as above]


    = the word what - [quotes.]
    'You want us to say the word "What?" again?'

    What do you mean by what?
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Lol re Swampdog - loving the "what do you mean by what" line :D

    But he has a point, OP. Your example doesn't make much sense out of context.

    Anyway, if you simply want to put emphasis on the word, simply italicise it.

    If it's a quote, then the word "what" must be the actual word used by the other character. Punctuation should fall outside of the quotation marks in this instance, because the question mark refers to the entire question, not simply to the word "what".

    What I mean is, it's not "What?" but "You want us to say this?" The word "what" itself is not a question, rather the sentence as a whole is the question, so the question mark should be outside, like this: "You want us to say 'what'?"

    However, I'd strongly encourage you to rephrase it altogether or add some clarifying words like Swampdog did, "You want us to say the word 'what'?" Simply because "what" causes a lot of confusion, because people do often respond that way to a ridiculous requestion, like, A: "Tell him you've got herpes." B: "You want me to say what?"
     
  5. g_man526
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    g_man526 Member

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    Yes, sorry, it's that first one: another character wants the person to say 'what,' like feeding them a punchline (the line before it is, "...And you know what?" He paused. "Come on, I'm waiting.")
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    then it would be:


    “You’re seriously going to make one of us say ‘what'?'"

    because only the word 'what' is being quoted... the question mark is part of the overall question and is not connected to the 'what'...

    that said, it's really not worded as a question, even though i'm guessing you want it 'delivered' as one...
     
  7. g_man526
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    g_man526 Member

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    Okay, that's what I thought, but just wanted to make sure. Thank you!
     

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