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Thread: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

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    First Lieutenant Feast of the Muse's Avatar
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    Default Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Since we keep getting off topic over in the fanfic pet peeves thread, I thought we might just make a second one.

    If you have questions about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or anything else regarding language, feel free to ask in here. Instead of just nit-picking fanfic, we can help people with it.

    Here are some links to sister threads that you may also find useful:

    Fanfic Pet Peeves

    Fanfic Helpdesk: Technical and Scientific Help for Writers

    Plot Bunny Adoption


    For other languages, I suggest an off-site forum, as there are many languages used there and you can get plenty of help with the details of the grammar, etc.

    Language Learning Forum

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    good idea. we can do our whinging in the peeve thread, and work at the source of those whinges here

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Oh, lovely idea! I've got a question to start things off: where do you place punctuation in regards to quotation marks? Is it "I don't think so," said Daniel, or is it "I don't think so", said Daniel? I prefer the former, but is that correct?

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    First Lieutenant Feast of the Muse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    I prefer the former as well. It does signal a break, and is part of a larger sentence. You wouldn't say "I don't think so." Said Daniel.

    Regarding that in general, I remember when I was little, they told me that punctuation in or outside of quotation marks was just different between the US and the UK. I choose to do it case by case. If I'm ending a sentence with something in quotes, and it in itself is not a complete sentence, I put the period outside. For writing dialog, it usually ends up inside the marks - for me.

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goose View Post
    Oh, lovely idea! I've got a question to start things off: where do you place punctuation in regards to quotation marks? Is it "I don't think so," said Daniel, or is it "I don't think so", said Daniel? I prefer the former, but is that correct?
    The former is correct, with one exception.

    Here is a site that explains it. And though I'm American, the British usage is what I was taught was correct when I was in school.

    (Yes, I'm female. Okay?)
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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Feast of the Muse View Post
    I prefer the former as well. It does signal a break, and is part of a larger sentence. You wouldn't say "I don't think so." Said Daniel.

    Regarding that in general, I remember when I was little, they told me that punctuation in or outside of quotation marks was just different between the US and the UK. I choose to do it case by case. If I'm ending a sentence with something in quotes, and it in itself is not a complete sentence, I put the period outside. For writing dialog, it usually ends up inside the marks - for me.
    The way you do it is the way I was taught to do it in school.

    (Yes, I'm female. Okay?)
    Sum, ergo scribo...

    My own site ** FF.net * All That We Leave Behind * Symbiotica ** AO3

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Feast of the Muse View Post
    I prefer the former as well. It does signal a break, and is part of a larger sentence. You wouldn't say "I don't think so." Said Daniel.

    Regarding that in general, I remember when I was little, they told me that punctuation in or outside of quotation marks was just different between the US and the UK. I choose to do it case by case. If I'm ending a sentence with something in quotes, and it in itself is not a complete sentence, I put the period outside. For writing dialog, it usually ends up inside the marks - for me.
    Indeed it does seem to be different between the UK and the US. I dug out my copy of The Economist Style Guide, which, in short said that in the US, punctuation mostly, but not always, comes within the quotation marks, whereas in British English, there's a mixture, based on what the original quote was, and, to quote the Economist, "common sense". The rules are a bit complicated, but the gist of them is that there is a difference, and that a mixed used is more of a UK phenomenon than a US one. I still prefer the US rule though...

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    I always put it inside

    "It's rocks, Jack," Daniel said.
    "I thought you called them artifacts."
    "Would you two please give it a rest," the sole female of their group said, glaring at both of them.

    and it's a comma if there's an attribution, a period if there's not one. The exception is ! and ? which are treated just like a comma in a quote.
    and the rest of the sentence - as in after the quote, is lower case...unless it's a name.

    You can put the attribution before the quotes:

    The loud speaker blared a warning. "Get away."

    and in that case, i believe, they are treated like separate sentences, not two.

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goose View Post
    Indeed it does seem to be different between the UK and the US. I dug out my copy of The Economist Style Guide, which, in short said that in the US, punctuation mostly, but not always, comes within the quotation marks, whereas in British English, there's a mixture, based on what the original quote was, and, to quote the Economist, "common sense". The rules are a bit complicated, but the gist of them is that there is a difference, and that a mixed used is more of a UK phenomenon than a US one. I still prefer the US rule though...
    There's your illustration right there. Look where you put the period, relative to the quotation marks, in that example I've bolded. That is precisely the right way to do it -- you've shown a perfect example of one of those odd situations when it is correct to put the period OUTSIDE the quotation marks. If there were more to that sentence, you'd use a comma rather than a period, but you'd still put it outside the quotation marks, and that would be correct.

    (Yes, I'm female. Okay?)
    Sum, ergo scribo...

    My own site ** FF.net * All That We Leave Behind * Symbiotica ** AO3

    now also appearing on DeviantArt
    Explore Colonel Frank Cromwell's odyssey after falling through the Stargate in Season Two's A Matter of Time, and follow Jack's search for him. Significant Tok'ra supporting characters and a human culture drawn from the annals of history. Book One of the series By Honor Bound.

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    First Lieutenant Feast of the Muse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goose View Post
    Indeed it does seem to be different between the UK and the US. I dug out my copy of The Economist Style Guide, which, in short said that in the US, punctuation mostly, but not always, comes within the quotation marks, whereas in British English, there's a mixture, based on what the original quote was, and, to quote the Economist, "common sense". The rules are a bit complicated, but the gist of them is that there is a difference, and that a mixed used is more of a UK phenomenon than a US one. I still prefer the US rule though...
    I use the Chicago Manual of Style (used by the Associated Press) if I need an absolute answer. It was one of my college text books, and I refuse to let go of it. However, if reason rules over a grammatical rule, I go with reason. My primary goal is clear communication; to mind the rules just happens to help, usually.

    I also like to use this site, especially if I forgot how one of my mnemonic devices goes and need a reference. This chick is the reason I can use affect and effect correctly. (After learning about afferent and efferent nerves, I think those particular brain cells gave up the ghost.)

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    First Lieutenant Goose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by SF_and_Coffee View Post
    There's your illustration right there. Look where you put the period, relative to the quotation marks, in that example I've bolded. That is precisely the right way to do it -- you've shown a perfect example of one of those odd situations when it is correct to put the period OUTSIDE the quotation marks. If there were more to that sentence, you'd use a comma rather than a period, but you'd still put it outside the quotation marks, and that would be correct.
    Actually, I looked it up once more in the style manual, and in that example, I should actually have said "common sense." (with the full stop inside the quotation marks.) However, this may very well be different in American English, and to be fair, I only placed the full stop outside the quotation marks because it felt more natural. Guess I don't follow British rules when it comes to quotation mark punctuation...
    Last edited by Goose; April 10th, 2011 at 06:16 PM. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    They don't. I've beta'd for a brit and she uses single quotes for her fic. Where i always use double when they're speaking, and sometimes single quotes for thoughts or sometimes emphasis within the quotes.

    "Look, we're 'famous'," Jack crowed, waggling his eyebrows.

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goose View Post
    Actually, I looked it up once more in the style manual, and in that example, I should actually have said "common sense." (with the full stop inside the quotation marks.) However, this may very well be different in American English, and to be fair, I only placed the full stop outside the quotation marks because it felt more natural. Guess I don't follow British rules when it comes to quotation mark punctuation...
    Well, any language evolves. Just like cultural traditions, I'm all for keeping them if they make sense. We have millions of people ripping English to shreds, who says we can't make it better? I'll put the comma where it should go! Viva la revolucion!

    With all the international communication these days, having a few rules that apply on both sides of the pond can't hurt. Just like accepting that colour isn't spelled (or spelt!) wrong. I try to stick to American spellings, but it really doesn't matter in that kind of case. I like the way honour looks better than his american cousin honor, for example. I won't use it in a paper I'm graded on, but it may appear on my facebook if I'm not paying attention. I don't sweat it.

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goose View Post
    Actually, I looked it up once more in the style manual, and in that example, I should actually have said "common sense." (with the full stop inside the quotation marks.)
    To me, and to every English teacher and writing teacher I've ever had, that would be considered wrong. In this example, the period belongs outside the quotation marks. The trick I use to remember this is that if you could easily remove the period (or comma) altogether and continue the sentence after the closing quotation marks without it being incorrect, then the period/comma belongs outside the quotation marks. Your sentence could easily have continued, to wit:

    ...to quote the Economist, "common sense" and...
    therefore, the period belongs outside.


    However, this may very well be different in American English, and to be fair, I only placed the full stop outside the quotation marks because it felt more natural. Guess I don't follow British rules when it comes to quotation mark punctuation...
    Actually, that "more natural" way IS considered the British way, from what I've read. But it is also what was taught to me in school and in college, despite my having acquired all my schooling in the US, therefore I consider it entirely possible that my teachers simply opted to utilize the British way of doing it. Wouldn't be the first time I've run into that.

    (Yes, I'm female. Okay?)
    Sum, ergo scribo...

    My own site ** FF.net * All That We Leave Behind * Symbiotica ** AO3

    now also appearing on DeviantArt
    Explore Colonel Frank Cromwell's odyssey after falling through the Stargate in Season Two's A Matter of Time, and follow Jack's search for him. Significant Tok'ra supporting characters and a human culture drawn from the annals of history. Book One of the series By Honor Bound.

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Skydiver View Post
    They don't. I've beta'd for a brit and she uses single quotes for her fic. Where i always use double when they're speaking, and sometimes single quotes for thoughts or sometimes emphasis within the quotes.

    "Look, we're 'famous'," Jack crowed, waggling his eyebrows.
    Actually, that depends on what publication you're reading. Some use " and some use '. There's not consistent rule, only that you use the other one for a quote within a quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feast of the Muse View Post
    Well, any language evolves. Just like cultural traditions, I'm all for keeping them if they make sense. We have millions of people ripping English to shreds, who says we can't make it better? I'll put the comma where it should go! Viva la revolucion!

    With all the international communication these days, having a few rules that apply on both sides of the pond can't hurt. Just like accepting that colour isn't spelled (or spelt!) wrong. I try to stick to American spellings, but it really doesn't matter in that kind of case. I like the way honour looks better than his american cousin honor, for example. I won't use it in a paper I'm graded on, but it may appear on my facebook if I'm not paying attention. I don't sweat it.
    I consciously try to use the British way of doing things, because I live in England. However, I spent four years of my childhood in America, so that's where I learnt English, which means that I still spell certain things the American way. And I speak with an American accent, though apparently less so then when I first meet my girlfriend. For example, I now pronounce France the English way, not the American way. And I use English words instead of American ones, like lift for elevator. Well, mostly at least; I still 'accidentally' use American English.

    EDIT IN REPLY TO SF_AND_COFEE:


    Quote Originally Posted by SF_and_Coffee View Post
    To me, and to every English teacher and writing teacher I've ever had, that would be considered wrong. In this example, the period belongs outside the quotation marks. The trick I use to remember this is that if you could easily remove the period (or comma) altogether and continue the sentence after the closing quotation marks without it being incorrect, then the period/comma belongs outside the quotation marks. Your sentence could easily have continued, to wit:


    therefore, the period belongs outside.



    Actually, that "more natural" way IS considered the British way, from what I've read. But it is also what was taught to me in school and in college, despite my having acquired all my schooling in the US, therefore I consider it entirely possible that my teachers simply opted to utilize the British way of doing it. Wouldn't be the first time I've run into that.
    I'm just quoting what the Economist style guide says; I'm sure that if I find another British style guide their advice might be different. I actually agree with you; the way they are saying just seems wrong, but hey, if they want to do it that way, sure thing...
    Last edited by Goose; April 10th, 2011 at 06:41 PM. Reason: reply to sf and coffee

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goose View Post
    I consciously try to use the British way of doing things, because I live in England. However, I spent four years of my childhood in America, so that's where I learnt English, which means that I still spell certain things the American way. And I speak with an American accent, though apparently less so then when I first meet my girlfriend. For example, I now pronounce France the English way, not the American way. And I use English words instead of American ones, like lift for elevator. Well, mostly at least; I still 'accidentally' use American English.
    Heh. I read so much written material that's in British English that I now code-switch between the two all the time which makes for some interesting conversations, since I do it in spoken* as well as written English. Add to this the fact that I studied French for four and a half years, and therefore when I encounter certain words in English that are actually loanwords from French, I tend to use the French pronunciation, and... well, you get the picture.

    Oh, and then there's the fact that part of my family growing up was bilingual in English and Swedish, which means I'll occasionally pepper my speech with the odd idiomatic phrase in Swedish, despite my not really speaking that language. I'm surprised I don't get more odd looks than I do.

    * albeit in a purely American accent, except when I'm on the phone with my Australian friend, whose speech for some reason influences my own

    (Yes, I'm female. Okay?)
    Sum, ergo scribo...

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    Quote Originally Posted by SF_and_Coffee View Post
    Heh. I read so much written material that's in British English that I now code-switch between the two all the time which makes for some interesting conversations, since I do it in spoken* as well as written English. Add to this the fact that I studied French for four and a half years, and therefore when I encounter certain words in English that are actually loanwords from French, I tend to use the French pronunciation, and... well, you get the picture.

    Oh, and then there's the fact that part of my family growing up was bilingual in English and Swedish, which means I'll occasionally pepper my speech with the odd idiomatic phrase in Swedish, despite my not really speaking that language. I'm surprised I don't get more odd looks than I do.

    * albeit in a purely American accent, except when I'm on the phone with my Australian friend, whose speech for some reason influences my own
    Funn.y enou, I'm actually Swedish! And I tend to do the exact same thing. Occasionally I'll say something in English, and my girlfriend will look at me in the stragest way, because more likely than not, I'll have taken a Swedish phrase and translated it, word for word, into English. And believe me, that doesn't work! I tend to do the same in Swedish; say English things directly translated into Swedish. Boy oh boy does my mum find that annoying!

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)


    Yeah, my family is of Swedish descent, all the way around. All four grandparents spoke it, with one having come from there; the rest of my great-grandparents were from Sweden as well. My father grew up speaking both languages (ironically, it was my mother's mother who was the immigrant, though). My mother could speak some. I could easily have grown up bilingual, except that for some reason the adults in the family decided to keep me largely ignorant of Swedish except for certain phrases, so that they could have a means of conversing privately among themselves even if I were in the room with them. Drove me up a wall.

    My high school actually offered Swedish as one of the foreign language options, and I should have taken it.

    ETA: The truly funny part is that lately, my husband has begun using one or two of the more common Swedish words and phrases that I use, often in talking to our cats. And he's of Russian/Slavic descent.

    (Yes, I'm female. Okay?)
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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    And I speak with an American accent, though apparently less so then when I first meet my girlfriend.
    since this is the Grammar thread, i'll correct.
    And I speak with an American accent, though apparently less so than when I first met my girlfriend
    Than=comparison
    Then=time-related *not sure how to explain*

    i said "i am smarter than you" and then he ran off.



    as to english:

    i tend to spell honor and colour. and i'm not even from an english country. (i'm from The Netherlands, as it's officially called)

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    Default Re: Grammar / Spelling / Punctuation Discussion and Appreciation (questions welcome!)

    American rules make more sense than English ones, which are the ones taught in most European countries even today. I'm Finnish but we lived in the UK when I was a teenager, so it confuses some people when they meet me, I speak British English but write American, even though I sometimes use British expressions. If I write, I'll use faucet and elevator. If I speak, it's tap and lift! Or depending on the person I'm talking to, if they're American I'll use American expressions to avoid confusion.
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