Thursday, March 13, 2008

before or after the quotes?

It's true—at one time I was a complete nerd. Maybe I still am. Actually, yes, I'm quite sure of it. But if I am, them Emi is too. After a lovely meal chez Soeur, she and I sat down to (1) fill out a spreadsheet of what to pack four our trip to England—column one for checked baggage, column two for carry-on and (2) converse about the rules of punctuation usage around quotes.

It's easy to get wrong. But in general, the smaller punctuation marks—the periods and commas—are always included within the double quotes.
She said, "You're my friend."
On the other hand, question marks, exclamation marks and the like should go after the quotes.

Do you like the phrase, "You're my friend"?
But if the quoted material is itself a question, then the question mark goes before the quotes.

She asked, "Will you be my friend?"
This is all well and good—if you're American. The English put the period after the quotes. And while we Americans cringe at the use of single quotes (unless within the doubles), apparently the English don't mind either way. And that's why my British mother gets away with both here.

While I'm left wondering, "What's the point of it all?"

1 comment:

Sallybagz said...

How amazing it all is! Every single time I use quotation marks, I wonder if I'm doing it right, and never bothered to find out. Turns out, if you're English, it doesn't matter at all, perhaps coz we're so 'eccentric'!! Thanks, Soe, for this little bit of helpful knowledge! I think ot's fascinating. xxx Maman

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