1. mice elf
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    mice elf New Member

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    Tough quotation mark + other punctuation question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by mice elf, Sep 22, 2011.

    Ok, let's say I have a list of song titles. One of the titles contains a question mark or exclamation point. The question mark or exclamation point obviously has to go inside the ending quotation mark for that title. Since it's part of a list, what do you do with the comma that's supposed to separate that title from the next item in the list? For example:

    My favorite songs are: "Let It Be," "Where Is The Love?" "Let's Get It On," and "Trenchtown Rock."

    That's what looks most natural to me, leaving the comma after "Where Is The Love?" out altogether. It obviously can't go before the quotation mark as it's not part of the song title, but it can't go after the quotation mark either, because commas don't do that (right?). So where does it go? Somehow it looks right without the comma - but that doesn't seem to make grammatical sense, either.

    Your thoughts?


    (BTW, I'm talking U.S. punctuation here)
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Include the comma. "Let it Be," "Where is the Love?," Let's Get it On" &c.

    That's my thought. To me it looks a bit strange either way, but more strange without it.
     
  3. mice elf
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    mice elf New Member

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    Second question: if I'm going to end this sentence with three "etc." dots that aren't part of the last song title, then they would go after the last quote mark, right? Like this:

    => My favorite songs are: "Let It Be," "Where Is The Love?" "Let's Get It On," and "Trenchtown Rock"...

    Yes? No?
     
  4. mice elf
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    mice elf New Member

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    Second question: if I'm going to end this sentence with three "etc." dots that aren't part of the last song title, then they would go after the last quote mark, right? Like this:

    => My favorite songs are: "Let It Be," "Where Is The Love?" "Let's Get It On," and "Trenchtown Rock"...

    Yes? No?

    ---------- Post added at 10:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:58 PM ----------

    Thanks, Steerpike! That was fast! Anybody else?

    Sorry for the repeat reply, it's my first post :)
     
  5. Timothy Giant
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    Timothy Giant Member

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    Hi!

    I have no knowledge of US punctuation, but in British punctuation, I think you should place the comma outside the quotation marks in cases like these. So in that case it wouldn't be so strange to have a question mark/exclamation mark inside the quotation marks and the comma (and full stop) outside.
    If you want to keep them inside, I'd say just add the comma after the question mark...

    ---------- Post added at 11:02 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:00 PM ----------

    And, excuse my double-posting, the second question: I'd definitely place the dots outside the quotation marks yes, since it isn't part of the title, as you said. Again, this might be specifically British, since American does place the comma within the quotation marks too.
    But three dots within the q'marks... looks definitely off to me.
     
  6. AllThingsMagical
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    AllThingsMagical Member

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    I would have thought it would be:

    My favorite songs are: "Let It Be", "Where Is The Love?", "Let's Get It On", and "Trenchtown Rock"...

    Though I don't see why you would need the ... .
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think that makes more logical sense, Timothy, though in the U.S. the general rule is that punctuation goes inside of the quotation marks. In a case like this, I am not sure. We need a grammar guru for a definitive answer :)
     
  8. mice elf
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    mice elf New Member

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    Unfortunately, British and US punctuation differ on precisely this point (where quote marks/inverted commas go in relation to other punctuation). In the US, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, commas and periods/full stops always go inside quotation marks, no matter how silly or illogical looks, and question marks, exclamation points, colons, semi-colons, and such go outside the quote marks, unless they're a part of the thing being quoted.

    Give me an American guru, dammit!

    JK :p
     
  9. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Yup. That's been my understanding: commas and periods inside, everything else outside.
     
  10. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    This is correct. Question marks and exclamation points often act as glorified commas when required. It doesn't look pretty, but it's grammatically correct. From what I've been able to gather from the Chicago Manual of Style, the commas fall inside the quoted material and since the question mark is part of the song's name, it falls inside the quoted material and also works as a serial comma. A solution you could use if you don't like the look of it with the question mark in the middle is to move that song name to the last mentioned. The sentence would then be required to end with a question mark (e.g., "My favorite songs are: 'Let It Be,' 'Let's Get It On,' 'Trenchtown Rock,' and 'Where Is The Love?'").

    From the source:

    I would not end this sentence with an ellipsis.
     
  11. Flowerfairy
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    Flowerfairy Senior Member

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    I second AllThingsMagical's point. In this case, the quotation serves the purpose of drawing the reader's attention to three different items and not a dialogue per se. So let us saythat the punctuation rules here are a bit diffrent. And hey, you wouldn't be needing the ellipsis at the end of the statement.
     
  12. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    The quotations serve the purpose of labeling titles in this sentence, not drawing attention to the items in the series (i.e., it would be incorrect without the quotations). Normal punctuation rules apply.
     
  13. mice elf
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    mice elf New Member

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    I agree with Raki and the CMOS. It makes sense that question marks and exclamation points not be accompanied by commas or periods, and that they would take precedence where needed, being "stronger."

    But you're all right, there's absolutely no reason to have an ellipsis at the end of this sentence, it was just to know for the punctuation itself if it were in a sentence that did need it.

    Thanks for the help everyone!
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    following a colon, the items in that list would be more properly separated by semicolons, not commas, so that solves the problem since semicolons go outside the quotation marks...
     
  15. Flowerfairy
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    Flowerfairy Senior Member

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    @Rak i: thanks for the correction. I made of mistake of mentioning "three" instead of "four" items. But all of them of course should be inside the quote.
     
  16. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    We're picking a fight? :confused: I was just noting that song titles go inside quotation marks, like short stories and news articles and such, not to draw attention but because they are titles, and regular punctuation still applies. I didn't mention the number of items.

    Not disagreeing with you, I actually think semicolons would make this sentence look neater, more efficient, but does a colon have anything to do with the use of semicolons in a series? I've always thought the serial semicolon was dependent upon internal punctuation within the elements of the series (i.e., you wouldn't use a semicolon unless the elements contained internal punctuation, and they do not).
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, semicolons can be used to separate single-word items in a series, as well as those that include a comma...
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could avoid the problem:
    My favorite songs are: "Let It Be," "Let's Get It On," "Where Is The Love?" and "Trenchtown Rock."​
    That's not always possible, though. It's the sort of question they like on the CMS Q&A page, so if you want an authoritative answer you could try asking there.
     
  19. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I suppose they could, but why use semicolons if commas would suffice? And what does a colon have to do with deciding either punctuation mark?
     

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