Grammar Wednesday!

Gerry, over at TwoBlueDay, has asked for some clarification where quotation marks are concerned.

* Rule number one – NO DOUBLE PUNCTUATION! Don’t put a question mark in the quotation marks, then a period to end the sentence. You only need one mark:

Susan asked, “would you please just stop tapping your foot?”

* Always put a period inside a quotation that ends a sentence:

Forrest Gump was right when he said, “life is like a box of chocolates.”

* If your punctuation (other than a period; see rule #1) has to do with the sentence, put the mark outside the quotation marks:

Which professor was it who told us that “my class is the only one that should matter to you”?

Have you read “The Raven”?

The crazy woman backed into my car, then waved and smiled without so much as a “sorry”!

* If the punctuation has to do with your quote, put it inside the quotation marks:

He asked, “did you know that my middle name is Ludwig?”

After she caught Steve cheating, Jan exclaimed, “all men are swine!”

* Even if your sentence AND quote are questions (or exclamations), put the mark inside the quote and, again, never use double marks:

Did you see the movie “What About Bob?”

Which song has the lyric “who can it be now?”

Blue asked for some clarification of the who’s/whose and its/it’s conundrums, so here they are again:

Most common pronouns don’t take an “apostrophe-s” when being made possessive; his, hers, ours, theirs, yours, whose and its:

Whose socks are in the silverware drawer?

The car is so underpowered, it can’t get out of its own way.

The “apostrophe-s” form indicates a contraction and means it (or who) is (or has):

It’s been five days since you tackled me; I’ve still got the rug burns on both my knees.”

The car blew its transmission and now it’s totally junked.

Who’s responsible for bringing the Jell-o mold salad to the church dinner?

The man, who’s a lumberjack and a cowboy, turns into a softie whenever there’s a baby around.

I taught my students to remember this by having them imagine that the apostrophe is really the dot to the “i” that’s supposed to be there….

As always, feel free to ask for clarification if I didn’t quite explain it right, and keep those suggestions coming!!

Happy Wednesday!



Filed under Grammar

5 responses to “Grammar Wednesday!

  1. Really isn’t EVERYBODY responsible for bringing a Jell-o mold salad to the church dinner?

  2. I have just been teaching this mess to my sophomores, and I HATE it. Seems like my kids either get it right away, or they never will.

  3. claudia

    I’ve been one of those who,when in doubt, have just put in anything that looks like it works! I figure they can work it out on the other end if they want.

  4. I still can’t get that freakin’ rule right. I cannot get my stubborn brain to let go of the possessive “s” so I will slip and write: “It was just it’s time to go”


    OK, here’s another request for another Wednesday.

    I was always under the impression that one used a colon prior to a quote (compare your Forrest Gump sentence above – with a comma – and my ‘it’s’ flub example – with a colon).

    Which is correct?

    Ta! – blue

  5. Hmm, I thought that the American punctuation rules stated that the punctuation mark always goes inside the parenthesis/quotes etc. Which doesn’t always seem very coherent, so I have been doing pretty much what you said (putting it inside or out, depending on the context.) Glad to know that’s correct.

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