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message 1: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Ok, this is a bit of an idiot question.

I was always told the punctuation went INSIDE the speech marks in dialogue.
"Hello," said Bob.

However I keep seeing "Hello", said Bob. Even in published books. it looks wrong to me. Can anyone clarify if I am wrong or not?


message 2: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments Alexandra, I'm no expert, but I've always thought the punctuation went inside the quotation marks as well. It really doesn't make sense to me to put it outside.


message 3: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 182 comments "You are correct," said Bob.


message 4: by Janelovering (new)

Janelovering | 52 comments Yes, because the punctuation is punctuating what has been said, not the sentence in which it features, therefore goes inside the speech marks.


message 5: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Me too. Glad to hear I am right:)


message 6: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 321 comments From what I have learned, the punctuations go inside the quotes. The only time I know the punctuation is outside quotes is when something is quoted.

"The carbon monoxide from the trees fails to keep the foliage green... ".

BTW, I have no idea where this quote came from so I don't even know if it's a quote.


message 7: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra Giovanni Your original phrase is correct. Punctuation goes inside if it is a part of the quotation.


message 8: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Yay. I keep seeing it in print books and it was beginning to get on my nerves. I tend to find if something look wrong it probably is:).

Then I saw it again today and thought, right I am finding out who wrong.

Nice it wasn't me, that made my day:)


message 9: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2189 comments So it's inside? Thats the consenus? I was wondering this myself for my 2nd book. That's good to know!


message 10: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Yes, it would seem so.
"Hello," said Bob.
NOT "Hello", said Bob.


message 11: by Jenelle (last edited Sep 17, 2012 11:48AM) (new)

Jenelle As an English major/English teacher, the punctuation (specifically periods and commas) ALWAYS goes INSIDE quotation marks, whether it is dialogue or not....


wait for iiiiiiiit...

(because there is always an exception in this crazy language)

EXCEPT for when a question is being asked, but what is inside the quotation marks is not part of that question.

Example: Did Maria really say, "Life is just a bowl of cherries"? <--- question mark outside because the entire sentence is a question, but what Maria said is not a question.

Same goes for exclamatory remarks.

In the UK, they have the above example rule for periods and commas as well, but in America periods and commas are ALWAYS inside the quotation marks.

Hope that is helpful.


message 12: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Nope now I am more confused. I wish grammar, spelling and punctuation rules were consistent. I did a business grammar course last year at work. I swear I was more confused after than before I started. Well most of the ones I have seen have just been wrong.

I bet most readers don't have a clue;)


message 13: by Jenelle (new)

Jenelle Sorry, didn't mean to confuse you more! :)


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian McClellan | 50 comments "Janelle, would it work that way if the quotation wasn't at the end of the sentence?" Ian asked.


message 15: by Jenelle (new)

Jenelle When it comes to dialogue, 99.999999999% of the time (the example I have above is the .00000001% exception, and that's not really dialogue, per se) the punctuation ALWAYS goes inside the quotation marks, as in the following dialogue:

"I like cookies," Bob said hungrily. "I hope Mom makes some tonight."
"Does she often make cookies on random weeknights?" Amy asked. "Should you really leave it up to chance?"


message 16: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Ohhhh cookies:)

Yes I am ignoring the silliness of grammar.


message 17: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 321 comments For these kinds of questions, you can always consult Grammar Girl. :)

Here are a few links regarding quotations and punctuation:

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/...

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/...

Hope this clarifies things.


message 18: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Thanks. I will look tomorrow. It is a bit late to get my head around it this evening.


message 19: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments I love “Ode to Ants”; it’s insightful and moving.
“Ode to “Ants”: A Moving and Insightful Song
Aardvark’s greatest hit is “Ode to Ants.”*
I love “Ode to Ants”--it’s insightful and moving.

Now that looks weird to me. The colon outside the "? Sorry it just looks wrong.

Consistency...ah yes I remember that.


message 20: by Leonard (new)

Leonard (leonardseet) | 21 comments Alexandra wrote: "Nope now I am more confused. I wish grammar, spelling and punctuation rules were consistent. I did a business grammar course last year at work. I swear I was more confused after than before I start..."

As Jenelle mentioned, the coma goes inside the quotations in the US, but outside in the UK. Grammar is a convention and different countries have different conventions. Yes, it can be confusing.


Leonard Seet


message 21: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 321 comments I agree about consistency, but I have to disagree. The colon outside makes sense because it's not part of the title.

Hmmm...time to sleep on it.


message 22: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments "Those add-on questions at the end aren't complete sentences but they each get a question mark anyway (1). It reads Can I have a cookie? two cookies? four cookies? and so on. They aren't complete sentences, so you don't usually capitalize the first letter. The rules are vague, though. Some books say to capitalize the first letter if the questions are “nearly a sentence” (2) or have “sentence-like status” (3), so you have to use your own judgment. I don't consider “two cookies” to be nearly a sentence, but I may consider something like “two cookies and a squeaking ball to chase” to be nearly a sentence, which would make me think about capitalizing it."

Soo the second link - it is basically all bollocks?
Depends who you ask;)


message 23: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Ah well I am a Brit. I didn't realise it was different in US ...er English.

Now my brain hurts.


message 24: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) An excerpt from one of my two favorite grammar/usage books, as regards punctuation: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartb...


message 25: by Karma♥Bites ^.~ (last edited Sep 17, 2012 03:45PM) (new)

Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Jenelle wrote: ... wait for iiiiiiiit...
Example: Did Maria really say, "Life is just a bowl of cherries"? <--- question mark outside because the entire sentence is a question, but what Maria said is not a question."


It should be noted that Jenelle's example above is a simple sentence (such as narrative text would be). However, quotation and order would be different if that same sentence was used as dialogue, as in: "Did Maria really say, 'Life is just a bowl of cherries'?" Jenelle asked.

ALSO, Leonard wrote: ... As Jenelle mentioned, the coma goes inside the quotations in the US, but outside in the UK. ...

I would have to respectfully disagree. Although many (US and elsewhere) do place the period or comma within the end quote to such a degree that it has become generally accepted (EX: Maria said, "Life is just a bowl of cherries."), this is not technically correct; the UK is following the proper rule while elsewhere...

I wish I could remember the source and proper terminology. At the risk of creating more confusion with my silly example, it was along the lines of "what is the punctuation punctuating?". In the foregoing sentence, the question mark is within the quotes because it "punctuates" the "what" while the period is outside the quote because it "punctuates" the entire sentence.

Does this help? If not, give me a second or two of warning so I can go duck! Cheers!


message 26: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments I think my brain has run away;).
Hopefully most readers don't know either- which I suspect is the case.


message 27: by Michele (new)

Michele Brenton (banana_the_poet) | 64 comments I think it becomes clearer when you call the punctuation being used by the function it is being used for.

The punctuation called Speech marks " " go around speech and so all other punctuation that describes the speech contained inside them goes inside with the speech.

" " as quotation marks being used to highlight a direct quote - the only punctuation inside should be the punctuation originally in the direct quote or title and the overarching sentence in which the quote is contained should be outside the quotation marks.

If there are nested quotes to a confusing degree or there is a struggle to make the sentence look 'right' the answer is to decide the sentence is unwieldy and re-write it or split it up and write more sentences.

This is a nice clear academic resource:
http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/d...


message 28: by David (new)

David Fournier (mohawk1df) Jenelle wrote: "As an English major/English teacher, the punctuation (specifically periods and commas) ALWAYS goes INSIDE quotation marks, whether it is dialogue or not....


wait for iiiiiiiit...

(because there ..."


So I guess it all just depends on where the author is from, as to where the punctuation will appear?


message 29: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments haha


Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Alexandra wrote: "I think my brain has run away;).
Hopefully most readers don't know either- which I suspect is the case."


Lost track of this thread so came back and... Wow. Seriously? As a reader, I don't know whether to be insulted or hang my head in shame.


message 31: by A.L. (last edited Oct 04, 2012 12:42PM) (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Oh I didn't mean to insult anyone but it is often true. Your average reader may not notice, of course then again they might.

It does seem dependent so a reader from one place might not notice simply because that is right where they are from.

I didn't want to offend people here.
I do include myself in the readers who might not notice, it depends how tired I am.


I have to say I don't always notice errors. I suspect I was in a bad mood when I posted that. Sorry.


message 32: by Gary (new)

Gary Patella In America, punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.

In England, punctuation often goes outside the quotation marks.

If punctuation is outside of the quotation marks in a published book, it was probably copy edited using the Oxford manual.


message 33: by Karma♥Bites ^.~ (last edited Oct 04, 2012 09:15PM) (new)

Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Gary wrote: "In America, punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. ... If punctuation is outside of the quotation marks in a published book, it was probably copy edited using the Oxford manual."

I guess it depends on the teachers who taught all of us in primary school. The entirety of my eduction was here (USA) and I rarely saw punctuation inside a quote until the last 5 or 10 years when I had more time for pleasure reading (meaning, finally done with class-, work- and other required readings). And as far as I know, didn't have a Brit among any of my teachers. But then again, those Catholics nuns and priests were pretty determined to educate us...

Just to end, think that I remembered how the US and Brit split on this point. Due to then prevailing technology at print shops, punctuation outside the end quote (per proper grammar) kept "falling off" and failed to appear on the page. So US printers decided to put them inside, while Brits stayed with the rule and dealt with the sometimes missing end punctuation. Funny, eh?


message 34: by Terri (new)

Terri Bruce (terribruce) Thank you sane people! I've been seeing those "incorrectly" punctuated dialog tags (commas between the end quotation mark and the dialog tag) and I assumed it was just self-published authors who hadn't had an editor check their work.

ETA that's interesting because I'm 38 and I NEVER saw punctuation outside the quotation marks in the US, though I swear I learned in school (20 years ago) that "punctuation related to what's in the quote goes inside the quote, and what's unrelated goes outside" so that:

Jenna was confused and said, "I thought Mary stayed home today".

would be correct. My husband quickly disbused me of that notion once he started beta reading my creative writing.

In the end I've found the best answer is, like spelling, to simply avoid constructions that I don't know how to make. I'd deal with Alexander's "Ode to Ants" examples by simply saying, I love "Ode to Ants." :-p

--Terri


message 35: by Karma♥Bites ^.~ (last edited Oct 06, 2012 08:04PM) (new)

Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Terri wrote: "Thank you sane people! ... though I swear I learned in school (20 years ago) that "punctuation related to what's in the quote goes inside the quote, and what's unrelated goes outside" so that..."

Yep, that's what I learned as well. You probably don't recall proper use because advent of word processing enabled proofers and printers to run auto-correct before actual printing. I've had some of my docs come back like that and well, I wasn't too happy.

And certainly, I haven't kept stats, but I do recall several years back suddenly wondering about the growing number of grammar and punctuation errors (among other things). Easiest answer I could think of was a younger, new generation of writers taught by teachers a generation or so after mine. Of course, my beloved English teacher was already ancient when she taught me so...

Anyway, I hate to be rude but... you were right and your husband (whom I'm sure is a great guy) was wrong to "quickly disbused [you] of that notion". <-- see where period went?

Yeah, know I sound like a militant punctuation police (oooh, alliteration!) but my job, oddly enough, requires it. No joke, I've seen documents fly out of office doors and juniors get dressed down because the reader lost patience with [fill in blank]. It's not a fun experience for anyone and everyone.

ADDED: Oh, and Terrie? Technically, it's... I love "Ode to Ants". <-- ;)


message 36: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments So it depends who wrote it, what they used to edit it and who is reading it:)

Great clear as mud.
Oh well I will stick with what i kow. If I don't know I will avoid it or hope no one notices it is wrong:)


message 37: by Terri (new)

Terri Bruce (terribruce) ETA: soon wrote: "Terri wrote: "Thank you sane people! ... though I swear I learned in school (20 years ago) that "punctuation related to what's in the quote goes inside the quote, and what's unrelated goes outside"..."

ETA - LOL, I *try* to tell him that I'm always right and he's always wrong, but for some reason he doesn't buy it. Alas, when it came to the punctuation argument, I could find no source that backs me up - Strunk and White, Elements of Style, etc. all support the punctuation inside the quotes pretty much all the time. It was a bitter defeat :-)


message 38: by Karma♥Bites ^.~ (last edited Oct 06, 2012 03:59AM) (new)

Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Terri, can't help you there. I sort of compromised with "you're smarter but I'm right" ;)

God, I love the internet! The time before seem like the Age of Dinosaurs (which *cough* I remember well). Stupid but I never thought to check wiki... (read only if you want a headache): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotatio...

More interesting is this, in which the writer states, "A punctuation paradigm is shifting": http://www.slate.com/articles/life/th...

And just for fun: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/gramma... -OR- http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/...

And hopefully, the horse is well and truly dead... Cheers!


message 39: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 25 comments Unfortunately, a lot of dumbing-down goes on in schools, and has done so for at least 40 years.

The original purpose of punctuation was to make the writer's meaning as clear as possible. There is a difference between a quotation, and direct speech, and a quotation quoted by a speaker.


message 40: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Sorry.


message 41: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 198 comments ...and let's not forget the dumbing down of even the big six's proofreaders. I find errors like that in almost every hardbound book I buy. I don't seem to mind so much if it's just an eBook...


message 42: by Ken (new)

Ken Consaul | 180 comments My editor always notes something she doesn't agree with and then cites the Chicago Manual of Style as the source. I always was taught two spaces after a period, she says one. I learned typing and its automatic with me so I wasn't about to change. E-book formatting often puts in extra spaces between words anyway.

I also 'saved' my question marks for the end of the sentence. After all, its an interrogatory sentence so the ? goes at the end. She says, in dialog, it goes at the end of the spoken word with a period at the end of the sentence. Same goes for exclamation points. Hard for me to get used to but that's why I have an editor.


message 43: by Marina (new)

Marina Fontaine (marina_fontaine) | 70 comments To the OP: You are correct. I remember my English Comp teacher taking points off for misplacing the quotation marks. Since I was obsessed with getting A every time, this is drilled into my brain now 20 years later.


message 44: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 87 comments Richard wrote: "...and let's not forget the dumbing down of even the big six's proofreaders. I find errors like that in almost every hardbound book I buy. I don't seem to mind so much if it's just an eBook..."

I take exception to that comment, Richard. 'Just an eBook'... I'm an indie author and I work my butt off to make my work as perfect as I can. As it's my work, and I have a vested interest in it, I probably work far harder on trying to make it perfect than any proof reader ever would. Yes, there will still be errors. I have a full time job and I can only write, edit, proof read etc in my spare time, and there's precious little of that, but it's not for lack of the will to get it right.

I must say, though, that it is very refreshing to find a group of people who are also interested in getting the grammar right. Standards seem to be falling ever more as the years go by. I learned spelling, punctuation, and good writing as a whole, by voracious reading of good literature from a very early age. I didn't consciously think about rules of grammar, I just absorbed it along with the great stories I was reading.

Also of interest to me was learning that conventions in the USA and the UK are often different now. I shall have to bear that in mind when I reviewing and what I perceive as poor punctuation may not necessarily be so.


message 45: by Karma♥Bites ^.~ (last edited Oct 06, 2012 07:51PM) (new)

Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Terri wrote: "... I could find no source that backs me up - Strunk and White, Elements of Style, etc. ..."
Forgot to note that S&W and similarly long-established resources are understandably of no help here. Think first print of S&W was early 20th century. Reason for US/UK split on this issue occurred about a century before.

Rowena wrote: "Unfortunately, a lot of dumbing-down goes on in schools, and has done so for at least 40 years.
It breaks my heart in general, but it truly tests my limits at work.

Richard wrote: "...and let's not forget the dumbing down of even the big six's proofreaders. ..."
In part, not so much a "dumbing down" of proofreaders as the publishing industry's continued adherence (naturally) of certain practices which evolved from days when printers used raised metal bits and set type by hand. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is a perfect example. (Thanks, Ken!) Also first issued in early 20th century, CMS was a basic listing of typographical rules meant for use in publishing (to conform to existing print technology). Note "of Style" in the title, not "of Proper Grammar and Punctuation". Moreover, CMS tends to be used more by academics, journals, and editors because it sets forth guidelines to things such as placement/formatting of footnotes/endnotes, resource citations, etc.

However, writers ultimately need to be published (duh!) so found themselves not between the proverbial rock and a hard place, but just plain screwed. They either went against what they'd been taught as proper grammar/punctuation in their writing or held firm and got cursed out by typesetters (then later, by proofers and word processors) with every switched punctuation.

Certainly, adjusting to then-existing print technology made absolute sense. But does that rationale hold much water at this day and age with advanced word processors, computerized print jobs and ebooks? My teachers didn't think so over 20 years ago, my first employer certainly didn't think so (mind-numbing 2-day seminar on writing during orientation week), and it makes even less sense now. At my offices, a memo periodically makes its way to our WP dept, gently reminding them that we do not follow publishing guidelines.

Ken, IMHO, you should stand firm against your editor. There's no risk of a period or comma "falling off" during the printing process these days. ;)

P.S.... To muddy the waters even further, there's the AP Stylebook, which is used by the news industry. I've never understood why it needed its own guide—after all, a verb is a verb, and a sentence is a sentence, no matter who writes it, right? But more importantly, it actually contains guidelines directly contrary to correct grammar. No wonder people are so utterly confused!


message 46: by Karma♥Bites ^.~ (last edited Oct 07, 2012 04:44AM) (new)

Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Jay wrote: "... I learned spelling, punctuation, and good writing as a whole, by voracious reading of good literature from a very early age. I didn't consciously think about rules of grammar, I just absorbed it along with the great stories I was reading. ..."

Jay, how apropos! I remarked to someone the other day whether or not people realized just how much (or little) they learned through osmosis when reading books. This arose in the context of how repeatedly seeing certain incorrect things eventually led to mimicking them. For example, I'd love to track down the first person who said/wrote "more proud" and "between you and I". Every so often, when I hear those phrases, I think about a grammar police version of the movie "Minority Report". *lol* [ADDED: a friend, who is fighting her own private battle as a HS teacher, called to tease me about this last sentence. To clarify, I forgot that the agents in "Minority Report" went back and executed criminals prior to commission of the crimes. I'm not usually that bloodthirty! Got confused and thought they went back to prevent the crimes.]

ADDED: Concerning Robert's comment that he didn't "mind so much if it's just an eBook", I took that to mean that he was like me in affording greater latitude to indie authors. I tend to have a much wider "we're all human" margin of error when reading ebooks not issued by publishing houses. Figure that the author's first priority is the story and in most cases, that author has few, if any, outside assistance.


message 47: by Karma♥Bites ^.~ (last edited Oct 06, 2012 08:27PM) (new)

Karma♥Bites ^.~ (karma_bites) | 215 comments Alexis wrote: "... There are tons of those that drive me crazy. Him and me, her and me, her and I, more happy, more pale, aloner, ..."

Aloner??? Oh boy, happy to say that I've yet to see that one (or at least, don't remember seeing it).

Alexis wrote: "... so bad it's considered acceptable to put the wrong one down, just because nobody knows the difference anymore! ..."

This is where I hesitate. Speaking only in the context of publishing fiction, it seems as if there are now (too) many chefs in the kitchen. And you know how that old adage goes...

Alexis wrote: "... I love that! The fact that there are books claiming... If it goes on much longer, we'll degenerate to cave paintings and pointing fingers in no time ..."

Not entirely correct to state that a particular guide claims to be "the ONLY correct representation". Bear in mind that CMS and AP are for two specific business industries. Anyway, if you haven't already, take a read at the Slate article (link in earlier post).


message 48: by Jay (new)

Jay Howard (jay_howard) | 87 comments You're probably right about what Robert meant. It was that little word 'just' that got me fuming. Now I'm not so tired and not so drunk (well, it was my one night out of the week) I'll assume no offence was meant, and appreciate the 'greater latitude' you mention, which we most certainly need.

On the subject of assistance, I can't speak for other authors but I'd really appreciate it if readers who notice errors would contact me via my website email address. I include the derails in the Make Contact section at the end of my books, but no-one ever has. I know readers are as busy as I am, but I live in hope.


message 49: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments ETA: soon wrote: "Terri wrote: "... I could find no source that backs me up - Strunk and White, Elements of Style, etc. ..."
Forgot to note that S&W and similarly long-established resources are understandably of no ..."


That reminded me of a suggestion the grammar checker in word made- "Maid" as in young virginal woman and it suggested "kitchen worker" um no not the same thing.

My friend got an even worse one- her spell/grammar checker seems to have got a feminist streak- "husband, father, fisherman" were not allowed. it suggested- "life partner, primary care giver, angler," not ideal in the context of a medieval story. I thik it tried to avoid gender specific words.


message 50: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments I am glad I am not the only one who is confused. I tend to find if it looks wrong it probably is, maybe, sometimes...


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