Thursday, February 24, 2011

Punctuation lesson

I hate to be a nag, I really do, but I've been driven to it. In the past week, I've read three different posts by moms who homeschool that were filled with punctuation errors of a very specific kind. I don't give a flying fig whether people choose to homeschool or to send their kids to school. But I do think that if you are in charge of teaching your kids, you'd better make darn sure you are teaching them the right thing. And lest you think I give school teachers a pass - I've been known to send handouts and flyers back to my kids' school with editing marks all over them. So there.

Here they are: three very simple rules.

1. PERIODS AND COMMAS ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS GO INSIDE QUOTATION MARKS.
(Unless you live in Canada or England, where there doesn't seem to be any rule at all.)

Examples:
She said, "I want to go to the mall."
"I want to go to the mall," she told him.
We read three articles in English class: "Effective Study Habits," "Training for Life," and "How to Succeed in College."


2. QUESTION MARKS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS GO INSIDE QUOTATION MARKS IF THEY ARE PART OF THE QUOTE; OUTSIDE IF THEY AREN'T.

Examples:
Puzzled, she asked the doctor, "What do you mean I'm pregnant?"
Who wrote "To be, or not to be"?
"How thrilling!" she exclaimed.

3. COLONS AND SEMICOLONS ALWAYS GO OUTSIDE QUOTATION MARKS.

There, now I feel better. I'm climbing off my soapbox and turning off caplock and getting back to my real job.


7 comments:

Holly said...

AMEN.

jennyp said...

"Thank you for the laugh!" she said, pleased that she was not the only slightly obnoxious English teacher out there.

yogurt said...

I've always wondered about #2 and you confirmed my hunch (more like memory as I'm certain I learned this in school).

As for #3, I've never encountered this writing dilemma (that I remember) but when I do? Now I know.

Becky said...

Sigh. Thank you.

p.s. can YOU be our new Governor? I'm looking for any smart person at this point to stop the madness in Madison.

Marie: said...

I am an editor-- I have a degree in English. That said, I am very very lazy about typing. Email, blog, facebook, whatever... if it's digital and not going to print, I am very lax on the rules. I also make quite a few TYPOS that I refuse to call spelling errors. While I am the first to notice mistakes in print or in professional writing, I have learned to let-slide the casualness of modern communication.
Last thought: I do have a pet peeve about texting speak instead of words. Sure, and LOL and a haha and a @ or a bc, or even a ppl... but when folks jst tipe whteva bc thyr 2 dam lazE, or thy thnk iz kool... Grrrrr!

Cookie said...

Funny you should mention that. I may guilty of some of these. Now that I see the rules again, I remember, but after reading a few blogs I was getting confused too.

The Empress said...

I used to know these things, but have become fuzzy from lack of use.

It's all coming back to me know.

How do you remember all this stuff?