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Do you agree with the punctuation in these examples? I'm using BrE style here.

  1. I like his sentence 'Be good to yourself and respect your elders.' (I say that the full stop goes inside the quote mark.)

  2. The email stated 'The meeting scheduled for June 12 has been cancelled.' (I say that the full stop goes inside the quote mark.)

  3. I love the adage 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.' (I say that the full stop goes inside the quote mark.)

  4. Lou said, 'I heard Jonas say "Martha and Frank are getting a divorce." ' (I think the ending punctuation ." ' is good.)

  5. Ernie said, 'I didn't like it when Nancy called me a "schlepp".' (I think the ending punctuation ".' is good.)

  6. When Nancy screamed 'Shut the hell up and get out of my house!' she scared her children. (I think no commas are needed in this sentence.)

  7. When Bob said 'Be careful what you ask for', Nicholas began to weep. (I think only one comma here, yes or no?)

  8. When Rufus asked 'Where are the liquid refreshments?' his wife pointed to the fridge. (I think no commas are needed in this sentence.)

  9. The sign said 'Shoplifters will be prosecuted.' (I say that the full stop goes inside the quote mark.)

  10. The sentences 'Be careful what you ask for', 'Life is way too short', 'Always respect your elders', and 'No good deed goes unpunished' provided sound guidance to Nicholas. (I say commas go outside the quote marks.)

  11. Mike said, 'Don't be disrespectful to your parents.' (Full stop inside, I say.)

  12. 'I will,' Joe said, 'provide an explanation when the time is right.' (I say the comma and period go inside the quote marks.)

  13. 'I will provide an explanation when the time is right,' Joe said. (Again, comma inside.)

Thank you.

marked as duplicate by MrHen, phenry, RyeɃreḁd, tchrist, David M Mar 5 '14 at 3:57

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    They all appear to be correct. The only possible error is in 9: the full stop goes inside the quotation only if it was on the sign; outside if it was not--but you probably know this already. As a Canadian citizen, I grew up with the American style, but switched to the British one as soon as I found it. It looks far cleaner and seems more logical to me. – Anonym Feb 24 '14 at 17:29
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    To answer your title question: it is a magical place where the Grammar river flows a fresh stream of verbs and the nouns can live peacefully undisturbed. ;-). Sorry, couldn't help it. I'll try to answer your question seriously. – David M Feb 24 '14 at 17:29
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    #4 needs a comma to introduce the quote inside the quote. I'm not 100% on that, though. – David M Feb 24 '14 at 17:31
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    #6 is probably correct, but I don't think a comma after the quote would be wrong either. #8, same reasoning. – David M Feb 24 '14 at 17:33
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    I should mention that I'm an American. But, the rules are similar enough that if you follow a logical consistency throughout, few will fault you for one vs. the other. – David M Feb 24 '14 at 17:36
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Now my British friend has emailed me saying that when a sentence starts with a dialogue tag, the full stop belongs to the sentence as a whole, not to the quote. He said that the following are punctuated correctly per BrE style.

~ I like his sentence 'Be good to yourself and respect your elders'. (He said period belongs to the sentence as a whole, not to the quotation.)

~ The email stated 'The meeting scheduled for June 12 has been cancelled'. (He said period belongs to the sentence as a whole, not to the quotation.)

~ I love the adage 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush'. (He said period belongs to the sentence as a whole, not to the quotation.)

~ Lou said, 'I heard Jonas say "Martha and Frank are getting a divorce".' (He said period belongs to the sentence as a whole, not to the quotation.)

~ Mike said, 'Don't be disrespectful to your parents'. (He said period belongs to the sentence as a whole, not to the quotation.)

~ 'I will', Joe said, 'provide an explanation when the time is right.' (He said the comma goes outside the introductory quote ['I will',] because the original sentence doesn't call for a comma at that point in the original sentence. The original sentence isn't 'I will, provide an explanation when the time is right'. He said if the sentence were 'I will provide an explanation,' Joe said, 'but I will do it only when the time is right', the comma would go inside the introductory quote ['I will provide an explanation,'] because in terms of punctuation a comma is required in that part of the sentence. The comma is separating two independent clauses separated by the coordinating conjunction 'but'. The original sentence here is: 'I will provide an explanation, but I will do it only when the time is right'. Hmmm. There's definitely some logic to that explanation.

If the sentence were 'I will provide an explanation', Joe said, 'but only when the time is right', the comma goes outside the introductory quote in this one because the sentence is 'I will provide an explanation but only when the time is right'. The clause after 'but' is a dependent one.

Does all this make any sense? Let me lay ... er ... lie down now. I have a migraine. This stuff has my head whirling.

  • 1. Is the British Friend a recognized authority to quote, or is that a personal opinion of his? 2. The answerer's contribution to the answer appears to be limited to a mention of migraine. The 'answer' could have been better with a little effort (post the migraine episode). – Kris Feb 28 '14 at 6:09
  • Excuse me? The mention of the migraine was used facetiously. And how could the answer have been better? What did you mean by 'post the migraine episode'? A lot of effort went into explaining his spin on this. I didn't see you contribute anything to this question other than with sarcasm. Don't be rude, please. – whippoorwill Feb 28 '14 at 12:16
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Put the commas wherever you think the reader needs a pause in order to realize the desired effect of the text- it's not a computer language. There are rules, I'm sure, but life is short.

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    Well, that's, as, useful, as, a, bottle, of, fish, and, chips. – Jon Hanna Feb 27 '14 at 12:52

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