1. starkweather
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    starkweather Member

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    Quotation Marks: English v American style

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by starkweather, Sep 3, 2008.

    Hi

    I'm reading the Collins Good Punctuation book and studying the section on British and American punctuation. It says here, and I quote, 'Their placement in American English may lack logic but does have the virtue of simplicity: all punctuation (stops, commas, colons and semicolons, exclimation and question marks, etc) precedes all final quotation marks.'


    I'm think of adopting this style for it's simplicity, but does this mean that every quotation in my story—even if it's one word I'm quoting—will have the full stop (or whatever) before the end quotation mark? Is that acceptable?

    Example:

    'I remember how he described her, and the word he used was "boring."'
     
  2. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    No, at least as far as I'm concerned. The period should be after the double-quotation marks: '...the word he used was "boring".'

    I had to think about this one; the fact that we Americans use the double quotes for dialogue and single quotes for in-dialogue quotes makes me backwards. But as far as I know (And I'm in eleventh-grade English, so bear with me) any final stop should come before the end quote and not inside any final interior quotation.

    I'm no expert though. Cogito has an excelent blog post on the subject, and I'd suggest checking it out.


    ETA: What?? We Americans lack logic??! How could they say something like tha---oh. :p
     
  3. kehl
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    kehl Member

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    I didn't even know there was any other way.

    Me and my being American.
     
  4. starkweather
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    starkweather Member

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    I'm so annoyed and confused now. :(
     
  5. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    Uh-oh, what's wrong? I know I'm not always the most coherent teacher...
     
  6. starkweather
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    starkweather Member

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    Oh no, not about you. About this grammar stuff. LOL. I don't know if I should go one way or the other. I could be Bi I guess: swing both ways :)
     
  7. Blossom
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    Blossom New Member

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    Grammar is a tricky subject ... I don't think you can lay down one single indisputable rule for punctuation with quotation marks; that is, it depends on the context in which the quotation marks are being used, how the sentence works before and after quotation marks, etc. if that makes sense. At least, based on the grammar I learnt in A Level English Language last year. And English Literature, come to that.

    For the example you used, I would agree with Milady (and I'm British! =O).

    If you're referring to quotation marks in terms of speech marks, then punctuation should come within the speech marks - though whether it's a comma or a full stop then depends on dialogue tags, i.e. "The comma should come inside the speech marks," he said.

    But if you're using quotation marks to make a general quotation, then punctuation should come outside of the quotation marks, i.e. He described her as "boring".

    Hmmm, I think I've confused myself with that. I hope you got something useful from it =)
     
  8. starkweather
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    starkweather Member

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    That is how I was using it: full stop outside the quotes if it related to the entire sentence and not the quoted part. But then it has English and American quotation marks.

    From the Book:

    English quotation marks:
    Dr Johnson described a lexicographer as "a harmless drudge".

    American quotation marks:
    Dr Johnson described the lexicographer as "a harmless drudge."

    Then it says this below: "With the increasing globalisation of publishing, many British publishers are switching to the American model."


    Oh Spare me! :)
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've never seen english dialogue punctuated in the other manner, with punctuation on the outside of the final quote.

    In Spanish, we do punctuate in that other manner. Although I am ethnically Latino, it always looks strange to me.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A word quoted for emphasis is punctuated outside the quotes. However, punctuation such as periods, exclamation marks, and commas belong inside the quotation marks that enclose the element they relate to (paraphrased from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, section 11.34). Along with the rule that when several punctuation marks "pile up" together, only the innermost one is retained, means that in American English, a correctly punctuated sence would be:
    However, your sentence is not a quotation within a quotation, so no punctuation attaches to the word boring:
    As for single vs. double as the outermost level, single outer is very common in UK English, but I have also seen writing guides for writers in England specifying the American convention of double outer quotes. As far as I can determine, that is the only difference between US and UK English punctuation of quotations, and apparently using the American style is not wrong in the UK. However, if you feel more comfortable using the single quote outer style, by all means do so. Just be consistent.

    I hope this helps.

    The punctuation where an inner and outer quotation end together is fairly obscure. I had to dig to find the answer. If that's the worse your publisher has to correct in your pumctuation, you're probably in pretty decent shape.

    I guess I should add to my blog entry. Good question!
     
  11. starkweather
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    starkweather Member

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    With regards to commas, which would you say is correct here:

    He still regularly gets drunk and begs his old girlfriend to take him back, but as she’s met someone else she tells him to "get a life loser," and hangs up on him.

    He still regularly gets drunk and begs his old girlfriend to take him back, but as she’s met someone else she tells him to "get a life loser", and hangs up on him.
     
  12. Blossom
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    Blossom New Member

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    That generally the rule I follow *shrugs*

    As for your example above, I'm not entirely sure but the first one, with the comma inside the speech marks, looks better to me.
     
  13. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The second one, as the "get a life loser" isn't direct speech, but rather a quotation, and therefore the comma is not attatched to it, but rather is a part of the sentence as a whole.
     
  14. starkweather
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    starkweather Member

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    That's what I would say too, but the book just made it confusing.

    Thanks. I feel better about it now, but am coming down with a cold so that's ruining my day now. ;)
     
  15. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Hehe. Grammar cold :p
     

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