For the Love of Webster’s, Fix This
October 25, 2018
It’s not a secret that I love grammar and anything that deals with writing. Not that I’m flawless, but I am constantly honing my skills by getting to read any number of essays, website material, printed matter, and even letters that come my way via friends who would like me to “take a look.”
And I always shout, “Of course!” To me, every piece of writing that I can improve in even the tiniest way makes me happy.
So I feel I need to take a small time-out from my regularly scheduled notebook entry to write about probably the MOST misunderstood grammar rule I’ve come across in writing today, regardless of what type of writing or age of the writer.
Here we go . . . .
How Various Punctuation Marks Relate to the Double Quotations:
(And there goes half the crowd.)
- The period. The period ALWAYS goes inside the double quotation marks.
“The Creative Farm Girl and many other reliable sources state that the period always goes inside the double quotation marks.”
- The comma. I will be the first to admit this little guy gives us problems—especially us grammar geeks who like straight and narrow rules all the time. The comma is the wishy-washy punctuation mark, literally moving from place to place or disappearing, depending on which teacher is teaching what. However, not here. Again, like the period, the comma ALWAYS goes inside the double quotation marks.
- The question mark and exclamation point. I have to think that it is these two lovely, important symbols that trip most people up in their overall thinking on this rule, because these two are not always inside the double quotation marks. If they are part of the quotation, then they fall inside the marks—see how that makes sense? They are PART of the quotation, and the quotation marks hold them all together inside.
However, if they are not part of the quotation, then they fall outside of the marks.
Did the Creative Farm Girl really say, “The comma is wishy-washy”?
The statement about the comma is not a question, so for the love of Webster’s, do not make it a question by sticking the question mark inside the quotation.
So anybody out there still reading . . . anybody? Ok, well, possibly my mom and dad, so here’s one more rule for you.
- Colons, semicolons, and dashes. These three complicated, yet so necessary figures, ALWAYS go outside the quotation marks. Don’t wonder why, just obey.
So there. I’m done. I hope the writing world has a little less red-marked space for awhile. And please feel free to double-quote me on anything.
Just use the proper punctuation.