This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
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Post by tony h » Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:40 pm

"Eat your dinner". Is not the same as: "Eat? You're dinner!"

Which, in writing this down, makes me wonder how best to mange the punctuation of the speech above. Specially when you add in reporting this as a quotation. eg

My English teacher used to say : " Simon said, "Eat your dinner". Is not the same as: "Eat? You're dinner!", said Simon "
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: punctuation

Post by JerrySmile » Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:44 am

tony h wrote:"Eat your dinner". Is not the same as: "Eat? You're dinner!"
I'd write it as:

"Eat your dinner" is not the same as "Eat? You're dinner!"

For the quoted example, in AmE according to the CMOS (The Chicaco Manual of Style):

My English teacher used to say : "'Simon said, "Eat your dinner"' is not the same as 'Eat? You're dinner!' said Simon.'"

With spaced quotes for clarity:

My English teacher used to say : " 'Simon said, "Eat your dinner" ' is not the same as ' "Eat? You're dinner!" said Simon.' "

13.28 Quotations and “quotes within quotes”

Quoted words, phrases, and sentences run into the text are enclosed in double quotation marks. Single quotation marks enclose quotations within quotations; double marks, quotations within these; and so on. (The practice in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is often the reverse: single marks are used first, then double, and so on.)

“Don’t be absurd!” said Henry. “To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean’ is to be as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You remember what the Hatter said to her: ‘Not the same thing a bit! Why you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!’ ”
6.119 Commas with question marks or exclamation points

When a question mark or exclamation point appears at the end of a quotation where a comma would normally appear, the comma is omitted (as in the first example below; see also 6.52). When, however, the title of a work ends in a question mark or exclamation point, a comma should also appear if the grammar of the sentence would normally call for one.

“Are you a doctor?” asked Mahmoud.


“Are You a Doctor?,” the fifth story in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, treats modern love.

All the band’s soundtracks—A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, and Magical Mystery Tour—were popular.


Re: punctuation

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:52 am

When I am arguing about the use of commas, I usually quote:

"Let's eat, Granddad".
"Let's eat Granddad".
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: punctuation

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:35 am

Peter Carey at the Mindyourlanguage blog adds much more sensible (does that need a comma?) advice about the positives and negatives of comma usage. I'll just mention:

Keith Waterhouse advised: “Commas are not condiments. Do not pepper sentences with them unnecessarily.” Quite so, but a well-placed one is the difference between “what is this thing called love?” and “what is this thing called, love?”

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