Quotation Marks, Part 6

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© Judi Birnberg   There must be a comma and quotation marks somewhere.

Did you know periods and commas always go inside quotation marks? Would I lie to you? (The Brits do the opposite, however.)

Here are a couple of examples:

Our teacher assigned us to read Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.”

“The Turn of the Screw,” a short novel by Henry James, is considered a type of ghost story.

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Quotation Marks, Part 4: Quotes Within Quotes

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Sometimes you need to use both double and single quotation marks in one sentence. Remember, this is the American manner of punctuating. The British system is the opposite of ours: they use single quotes where we use doubles.

Here is an American example: Joginder stated, “My classics professor assigned the first 40 pages of ‘The Odyssey’ for our next meeting.”

Normally, you would put “The Odyssey” in double quotes, but because it is within a statement that needs double quotes, you use single quotes for the “inside” one.

Joginder may ask, “Did Seema really say, ‘Why would I date him after the rude comment he made to me?’ “

That is a quoted question within another quoted question. Both sets of quotation marks come at the end of the sentence. It’s important to leave a space between the single and double quotes. Singles always come inside doubles (in America).

You may quote me.

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Quotation Marks, Part 3

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If a person has a nickname commonly associated with the given name, don’t use quotation marks around the nickname. For example, just write James (Jim) Cooper. But when the nickname is unexpected, use the quotes: James “Hotshot” Cooper.

Yogi Berra’s given name was Lorenzo Pietro, later anglicized to Lawrence Peter. At some point he acquired the nickname “Yogi,” but before long no one remembered the Lawrence Peter part and he became Yogi without the quotation marks.

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Quotation Marks, Part 2

Bugposter

Sometimes we write a document in which we use a word in a way that differs from its more usual meaning. If you write that a location is filled with bugs, you need to put that word in quotation marks. Otherwise, people will be rushing to call an exterminator.

However, after the first use of bugs, omit the quotes for that word and for all other forms of it (bugged, bugging, etc.). You’ve already clued your readers in to the fact that you are referring to listening devices. No need to call an exterminator.

 

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When to Use Quotation Marks

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©Judi Birnberg  There Are Quotation Marks in Here Somewhere

Obviously, use quotation marks around the exact words (direct quotes) that someone spoke or wrote. Don’t go by what you see in ads: quotation marks are often used there to get your attention and for emphasis, but they are almost invariably used incorrectly. For instance:

EAT HERE! “Best hamburger in the universe!” Chances are, no one ever said those words  in quotes except possibly the mother of the cook.

If you are using an indirect quote, do not use quotation marks:

Rodney stated he had eaten the best hamburger in the world. 

Use quotation marks around song titles, names of TV shows, short poems, articles, and essays. Names of magazines, newspapers, and book titles are set in italics. Therefore, you would refer to The Atlantic and then to an article in the issue, “The Making of an Unexpected President.”

Newspapers have their own style guides, which seem to have adopted putting book and movie titles in initial capital letters, no quotation marks, no italics. Unless you are hired by a newspaper, use the rules I’m listing here.

I’ll cover more uses of quotation marks in my next few blog posts.

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What’s Wrong With These Sentences?

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© Judi Birnberg                     Here’s a collage I made when I was 16.

There is a million different reasons why you should finish your assignments as soon as possible.

Here is/Here’s the recipes for the cookbook your are compiling for our children’s school fundraiser.

I see and hear sentences like these frequently. They contain an agreement problem. The subjects of the sentences are reasons and recipes, respectively. Both are plurals. But the introductory parts, There is and Here is, are both singular. You’re going to need There are and Here are. You can also use There’s or Here’s if the subject is singular.

Incidentally, when sentences start with There is, There are, Here is, Here are, the subject is always going to be the first noun following those introductory clauses. The subjects are never There or Here. Therefore, if you use this construction, find the subject by looking at the first noun after it and use There is or There are and Here is or Here are accordingly. Easy, right?

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The Ides of March

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What is the ides, anyway? Nothing more than the Roman concept of a date near the middle of a month. For some months, such as March, the ides falls on the 15th; in other months it comes on the 18th. (A singular ide doesn’t exist. Don’t worry about it.)

Perhaps you are thinking, “Beware the ides of March,” a phrase you are likely familiar with. Shakespeare used it in his play Julius Caesar. Here’s the back story:

Julius Caesar, dictator of the Roman Empire, was murdered in a conspiracy on the ides of March in 44 BCE. Cassius Longinus initiated the plot and his brother-in-law, Marcus Brutus, joined him.

As Julius Caesar entered the Senate that day, he was given a note reportedly telling him to beware the ides of March, but he did not read it. He was soon surrounded by many senators armed with daggers. Casca was the first to strike, stabbing Caesar in the neck.

When Brutus stabbed Caesar in the groin, Caesar is said to have asked (in Greek), “You, too, my child?” You’re probably more familiar with Shakespeare’s version: “Et tu, Brute?”

After the assassination, Mark Antony tried to carry on Caesar’s role, but Caesar’s will had named Octavian, his adopted son, to take charge after him. Two years later, Brutus and Cassius committed suicide after Octavian’s forces defeated theirs at the Battle of Philippi, in Greece.

Now the thick plot gets even thicker: Antony moved his armies into Egypt, where Cleopatra, Caesar’s old lover, awaited him. Octavian’s and Mark Antony’s forces fought, with Octavian’s ultimately prevailing. In 30 BCE, Antony committed suicide. Octavian then became known as Augustus and ruled the Roman Empire for many years. As for Cleopatra, Shakespeare has her clutching an asp, a poisonous snake, to her breast and dying from its bite. Corpses abounded in the ancient world.

So there you have it. Remember, these events occurred  over 2000 years ago. Shakespeare used sources from the ancient world, but we can’t be certain of every detail and certainly not of what people said.

As for the Holy Roman Empire, my favorite quotation about it is from Voltaire, the French philosopher. He declared that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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