English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the following excerpt, would it be more correct to close the quotation after "pose"?

...and they stand in the ISO-standard "security man waiting for you to walk through the door so he can escort you" pose by the door.

(Also, is there a better word for what I did there with the quotes, since "sarcastic" doesn't really fit?)

share|improve this question
Can you provide a larger extract? It's not clear what the meaning, or indeed the tone, is. – HellishHeat May 31 '13 at 13:31
I think "sarcastic" is a pretty good description of this type of adjective. – Marthaª May 31 '13 at 16:52
up vote 3 down vote accepted

No, it would not it be more correct to close the quotation after "pose".

If you were to omit the quoted expression you will have:

...and they stand in the ISO-standard ... pose by the door.

which makes grammatical sense, even though you may not understand an ISO-standard pose.
On the other hand, if you were to include pose within the quotation, omitting the quotation would give you:

...and they stand in the ISO-standard ... by the door.

which is not grammatical (or you are left wondering what is the ISO-standard in which they are standing!).

share|improve this answer

No, it wouldn't be more correct, and in fact I'd argue it would be wrong. The phrase "security man waiting for you to walk through the door so he can escort you" is a parenthetical, and pose is not part of it, but rather the head of the entire noun phrase "ISO-standard 'security man waiting for you to walk through the door so he can escort you' pose". For all intents and purposes, you can regard ISO-standard and security man waiting for you to walk through the door so he can escort you as two adjectives on equal footing. Which is also the reason you could see both of them hyphenated rather than one of them enclosed in quotes, i.e. "the ISO-standard security-man-waiting-for-you-to-walk-through-the-door-so-he-can-escort-you pose".

share|improve this answer
+1 for hyphenating the phrase. – rajah9 May 31 '13 at 14:53

Try dashes instead of quotes since the phrase is very long:

...and they stand by the door in the ISO-standard security-man-waiting-for-you-to-walk-through-the-door-so-he-can-escort-you pose.

Also, I put "by the door" up front so that you don't get that dangling prepositional phrase so far from the subject. :-)

And . . . not that you asked for an alternative phrase, but @fumblefingers comment is well taken. You probably could shorten that bit to:

...and they stand by the door in the ISO-standard security-man-escort pose.

share|improve this answer
+1 I think using dashes instead of quotes is an excellent way of making it easier for the reader to see he's got a (facetiously?) long (effectively, parenthetical) phrase coming up. In speech, you'd almost certainly speak those words more quickly than normal (if only so your audience didn't get bored and walk away before you'd finished! :) – FumbleFingers May 31 '13 at 17:19
@FumbleFingers In fact, RegDwighт suggested dashes 2 hours earlier! – TrevorD May 31 '13 at 19:22
@TrevorD: I freely admit I was something of a "drive-by upvoter" there. I'd already upvoted Reg's answer before this one, but I hadn't actually read it all the way to the end. I just upvoted because he said it would be wrong to include the word "pose" in the quotes. Anyway, although I think strictly speaking it's Off Topic advice on writing style, Kristina's point about putting by the door before the ensuing "linguistic obstacle course" is sound as a pound, as we Brits say. – FumbleFingers May 31 '13 at 21:23
@FumbleFingers, guilty of the same thing! I didn't see RegDwight's dashes at the bottom of the answer. Thanks! :-) – Kristina Lopez May 31 '13 at 21:34
@FumbleFingers, Not I! He threw a friend of mine off of the site and banished her ID for posting a question with a hidden message to me. lol! (Rightfully so, actually.) – Kristina Lopez May 31 '13 at 22:29

It seems to me that the opening quotation mark may be misplaced, too.

That is, they stand in the ISO-standard "security man ... escort you" pose means that somebody unnamed is impersonating, conventionally, a security man waiting to &c.

But it may be that what is intended is the security men are standing in a pose which is conventional in their profession, which I would point this way:

they stand in the ISO-standard security man "waiting ... escort you" pose

share|improve this answer
You've quite a muddle there. That is, the point isn't made clear. The dog's breakfast mix of bracketed and parenthetical phrases clutters the picture as well. Perhaps break the second sentence into four shorter sentences. – jwpat7 May 31 '13 at 16:47
@jwpat7 Point well taken. I've rewritten – StoneyB May 31 '13 at 18:00
It now reads as if the security man is of ISO-standard, rather then it being the pose that is ISO-standard. I read is as if the pose is the type of pose adopted by a security man waiting [to] escort you. There is no impersonation implied in the original question, merely that the pose is the type of pose that a security man might use. – TrevorD May 31 '13 at 19:32

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.