1. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Help on quotations in a sentence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Jul 20, 2011.

    Hey everyone,

    Here's my sentence:

    "I hope and pray I don't use the whole 'end of the Mayan calendar' thing as my excuse not to do it."

    Should "end of the Mayan calendar" be in quotations? I don't know why I want to do that. The sentence just doesn't look right if I leave it bare like this:

    "I hope and pray I don't use the whole end of the Mayan calendar thing as my excuse not to do it."
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a quote, so it should have quotation marks, not inverted commas.

    I hope and pray that (<-- not REALLY necessary, but kinda flows better, I think) I don't use the whole "end of the Mayan calendar" thing as my excuse not to do it.
    (I used italics because I avoid inverted commas for some reason)

    Now that that's out of the way, that's an extremely informal way to refer to it (which might be your intent - if you'd say it like that, with the air quotes, and you want it to read the way you'd speak...) and, to me, almost sounds incorrect. I mean, it's the "2012" thing. The "end of the Mayan calendar" thing isn't actually the end of the world and isn't an excuse to not do anything. The "2012" thing retains informality, and also gives the connotation I think you're looking for?

    If you want to refer to the Mayan calendar, I'd say, ... the "2012" thing (with the Mayan calendar ending in December, 2012) ... or something similar to that.

    Hope that helps, mate.
     
  3. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is correct if this is not a character dialog. If it is a character then, of course, the primary statement would be in quotes and the "Mayan calendar" reference - the quote within a quote - would be in single quotes (or 'inverted commas' as cruciFICTION refers to them.)

    []QUOTE]If you want to refer to the Mayan calendar, I'd say, ... the "2012" thing (with the Mayan calendar ending in December, 2012) ... or something similar to that.[/QUOTE]

    I think the reference to the Mayan calendar lends a different sense to the statement than merely referring to "the 2012 thing" so one choice over the other would, necessarily, depend upon what the writer was intended to convey.

    jmtcw
     
  4. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Okay, thanks guys. I think this solves my problem. The Mayan calendar thing is a little too specific. I really just want to refer to the end of the world without saying it. I think I'm going to to go with "the whole 2012 doomsday thing."

    Back to my original question though, is it ever okay to use quotes for a figure of speech if you are not actually quoting someone? For emphasis only, that is, if you didn't want to use italics. Keep in mind, this is an informal essay that should be read like someone talking. Can a reader pick up on air quotes if it isn't in the context of dialogue?
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The OP is correct for US quotes within dialogue but crux is correct for British/International English. We say inverted commas, not quote marks, as well.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The other advantage of saying 2012 is the end date of the Maya calendar is still sometimes subject to debate, as there are multiple interpretations of when the start date should be, and depending on where you put the start date, the end date changes.

    As for your original question - without getting into the grammatical correctness of it (because I don't know the answer), I think the use of quotes in such a context would be perfectly fine in terms of clarity and conveying the idea you intend to convey. To me that is the most important consideration.
     
  7. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    We call it "Australian English" round here, mate.

    So far as I'm concerned, you use a single inverted comma for a quote within a quote or for an apostrophe. You use two for quotation marks/dialogue.

    I always knew there was something weird about American dialogue.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    is it really a quote?... did someone in the story say that previously?... or is it a phrase that's often repeated verbatim in speech/by the media?

    if not, then it doesn't really need the inverted commas/single quotation marks... but if you want them there regardless, as a matter of style, there's no harm in using them, i guess...
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Except that you should be using single inverted commas for dialogue. You then need double inverted commas for the quotation--you have given double inverted comma for the quote, so I thought naturally that you would use single for dialogue.
    If you are using the US style double inverted commas for dialogue, then you have to use single inverted commas for quotations to avoid confusion. Either style can be 'right' depending on the submission rules and where you are based.
     

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