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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Punctuation confusion

    I have been trying to learn punctuation lately but it seems the more I read the more it makes me confused.
    First of all, tell me what is the difference between a quotation mark and an apostrophe. Elaborate with example if you can.
    Secondly, what is an appropriate way of using quotation in a sentence with correct punctuation.
    Thirdly, will full stop or question mark come after the quotation mark or before. For example, Founder of this nation said, "Hope for best and prepare for worst". Is this proper punctuated sentence or Founder of this nation said, "Hope for best and prepare for worst."

    I have read sentence in which quotation mark comes before full stop or question mark but then I also found quotation mark after the full stop in some sentence. This has confused me and I am not able to understand the rule. Kindly elaborate with example.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    For starters, apostrophes don't come in pairs. Quotation marks always do.

    Say:

    The founder of this nation said:

    "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst."

    You need to put question marks (?) at the ends of questions.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by kandwal View Post
    I have been trying to learn punctuation lately but it seems the more I read the more it makes me confused.
    First of all, tell me what the difference is between a quotation mark and an apostrophe. Elaborate with examples if you can.

    Quotation marks surround the exact words someone says:

    "Thank you for your excellent answer," she said.

    Apostrophes show missing letters:

    don't = do not
    we'll = we will


    Secondly, what is an appropriate way of using quotation marks in a sentence?

    Are you asking how quotation marks should look? The one that starts the quote has a space before it and no space after. The one that ends the quote has a space after it and no space before it:

    He said, "This looks right," and it was.


    Thirdly, will a full stop or a question mark come after the quotation mark or before?

    Quotation marks show exactly what the speaker says. So they go inside if it's part of the quote. If not, they go outside.

    "Why are you studying such a hard language?" he asked.

    Are you the person who said, "English is easy"?


    For example, the founder of this nation said, "Hope for best and prepare for worst". Is this the proper punctuation, or is it, "Hope for best and prepare for worst."

    In American English, periods and commas ALWAYS go inside the quote. In British English periods and commas follow the rule I showed you above. So your first example is correct British punctuation, and your second example is correct British punctuation.

    It evolved that way in the U.S. long ago, when printers used moveable lead type. Periods and commas were so small that they often broke when placed outside the quotation mark. Typesetters here solved the problem by putting them inside the quotation mark - even when it was wrong. It became , and we still do it that way, even though lead type is rarely used now.

    So it depends on whether you want to write using British or American English.

    And remember: it applies ONLY to periods and commas, and it's found ONLY in American English.

    I have read sentences in which a quotation mark comes before a full stop or question mark, but then I also found a quotation mark after the full stop in some sentences. This has confused me, and I am not able to understand the rule. Kindly elaborate with an example.

    It usually just depends on whether the writer (or editor or publication) is American.
    Two more small points:

    1. A quote inside another quote uses a single-stroke quotation mark:

    She said, "My mother told me, 'You have to shop around.'"

    Those are NOT apostrophes! They are quotation marks.

    2. The rules vary. For example, many Irish writers do not use quotation marks at all. Instead, they use a long dash before the quote, and nothing after the quote. So where most of us write:

    "I love reading James Joyce."

    . . . many Irish writers write:

    — I love reading James Joyce.

    The most important thing is to be consistent. Pick a style, and stick to it!

    I hope that helps.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 24-Apr-2016 at 23:29.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    PS - I forgot to mention possessives. We use apostrophes for those, too.

    If a cat belongs to Anna, it is Anna's cat. More examples:

    - Italy's army
    - the church's property
    - the story's ending
    - the officer's honesty
    - Emir's sister's dog's nose

    Words that end with an S might look like this:

    - Charles's opinion

    . . . or this:

    - the cities' mayors

    Important: pronouns NEVER have apostrophes:

    - his house
    - her education
    - their fault
    - its meaning
    - the voice is hers
    - the job is theirs
    - the money is ours
    - the secret is mine

    When we write, even English-speaking people often mix up its and theirs (possessive pronouns) with it's and there's (contractions of it is and there is).

    Now you know everything!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  5. Newbie
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    #5

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    I don`t know if I was able to convey the question properly or not; but I am still in a quandary as to what the rule is.
    Actually, I am studying history of India and Pakistan and I have come across different quotes of the important people. These quotes always use the quotation marks but it is the the way they are used that has confused me. Let me clarify my point and help you understand what I am asking;

    1) The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah therefor rightly remarked:
    "Pakistan came into existence the day the first Muslim was born on the soil of the subcontinent."

    2) Sir Syed Ahmed Khan stressing upon the significance of Hindu-Muslim unity said:
    "Two communities are like two eyes of the bride of India, injury to one eye would make the bride look ugly".

    In these two quotation the quotation marks have been used but in the No.1 the quotation marks came after the full stop, while in the No.2 the quotation mark(In bold font) have come inside the full stop. My query is if there is any rule behind this or both are right?

  6. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    As Charlie explained in post 3, there are different conventions in BrE and AmE, There is no universal rule.

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    #7

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    In the two examples you give, 1) is better because the full stop is a part of the sentence. So the quotation marks are better outside (after) the full stop.

    Number 2) should really be the same. The use should at least be consistent.

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    #8

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    I'm afraid the OP is getting conflicting advice. In both quoted sentences, the period should be inside the quotation marks in both British and American usage because it ends the quoted sentence.

    [EDIT] I mis-read previous posts. Sorry for confusing the issue.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 26-Apr-2016 at 20:31. Reason: Strike out mistaken text
    I am not a teacher.

  7. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I'm afraid the OP is getting conflicting advice. In both quoted sentences, the period should be inside the quotation marks in both British and American usage because it ends the quoted sentence.
    I agree.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #10

    Re: Punctuation confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I'm afraid the OP is getting conflicting advice. In both quoted sentences, the period should be inside the quotation marks in both British and American usage because it ends the quoted sentence.
    We're all giving the same advice.

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