RE: Quotes/Comma question

Subject: RE: Quotes/Comma question
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>, "Butler, Darren J Ctr 584 CBSS/GBHAC" <darren -dot- butler -dot- ctr -at- robins -dot- af -dot- mil>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2007 13:01:54 -0800

neilson -at- windstream -dot- net wrote:

> quotation marks are one of the broken items in the rules
> for written American English. You cannot write, for example:
> Did I hear him say, "Never again!"?
> The correct form is supposed to be:
> Did I hear him say, "Never again?"


Actually, American style would put the question mark outside the quotes:

Did I hear him say, "Never again"?

The only reason that your first example might be disallowed by the
strictest interpretation of American style rules is that there's ANOTHER
rule that omits the terminal punctuation mark INSIDE the quote when
there's a question mark or exclamation point OUTSIDE the quote. The
omitted terminal punctuation is almost always a period, so the rule
keeps us from writing:

Did I hear him mumble, "Never again."?

The rule's usually written as "omit the period". If my style guide
didn't explicitly say "omit the terminal punctuation mark, even if it's
an exclamation point", I'd argue that this was a rare exception and the
exclamation point should not be omitted... So American style WOULD allow
your first example.

I guess you could also change the verb:

Did I hear him shout, "Never again"?

Does that accomplish the same thing as including the exclamation point?

Hmm... Even if it does, I don't think you can do anything similar with
the complementary case:

Omigod! He just asked, "Never again?"!


=== Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com
=== Synaptics, Inc - Santa Clara, CA

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: RE: Quotes/Comma question
Next by Author: RE: A Good Response to "No One Reads the Help Anyway"
Previous by Thread: Re: Quotes/Comma question
Next by Thread: RE: Quotes/Comma question

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads