Posts Tagged ‘quotation marks’

Sales & Performance Tips Newsletter Needs Comma Tips

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Most writers tend to "sprinkle" too many commas in their writing. Today's post includes examples from a "sales and performance tips" newsletter that does not use enough commas. The problem involves this comma rule:

An introductory phrase or clause containing three or more words should be set off by a comma.

Whoops #1: If you are struggling with what to delegate use the 70% rule.

The introductory clause in this sentence begins with IF and ends with DELEGATE (8 words). It should be set off with a comma after DELEGATE.

Whoops #2: If you choose a less experienced team member then Direction is the best course of action.

The introductory clause in this sentence begins with IF and ends with MEMBER (8 words). It should be set off with a comma after MEMBER. 

Whoops #3: For the delegation process to be results-centric you have to focus more on the "what" and the "why" and less on the "how".

The introductory phrase in this sentence begins with FOR and ends with RESULTS-CENTRIC (7 words). It should be set off with a comma after RESULTS-CENTRIC. Also, the period at the end of the sentence should be moved inside the quotation marks. (Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks in the United States.)

Here are all three examples written correctly:

If you are struggling with what to delegate, use the 70% rule.

If you choose a less experienced team member, then Direction is the best course of action.

For the delegation process to be results-centric, you have to focus more on the "what" and the "why" and less on the "how."


IN A MANNER THAT ALLOW–Subject/verb agreement again!

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

The Jefferson County, Alabama, tale of financial woe continues, and the grammar in one auditor's letter needs an overhaul as well.  Take a look at this quoted portion of a sentence regarding the need for improvement in the county's financial controls:

"people, processes or systems were not operating in a manner that allow the Commission to prepare financial statements in accordance with U. S. generally accepted accounting principles."

Whoops! The subject of ALLOW is not PEOPLE, PROCESSES OR SYSTEMS (plural), it is MANNER (singular). Therefore, the verb should be ALLOW (singular) except that the first part of the quotation uses WERE, which is past tense, so the verb probably should be changed to WOULD ALLOW.

The auditor does not use ellipsis correctly either. His quote does not begin at the beginning of a sentence. (This is clear because the quotation begins with a lower case letter.) Therefore, he should have placed an ellipsis (three dots) at the beginning of the quotation.

Finally, I think this quotation would read more smoothly if the words GENERALLY ACCEPTED came before U.S.

Here is my suggested revision for this sentence:

"…people, processes or systems were not operating in a manner that would allow the Commission to prepare financial statements in accordance with generally accepted U. S. accounting principles."

 

NOTE: Would you like to learn more about effective proofreading techniques like the ones described above? Check the calendar at www.ruthbeaumontcook.com and sign up for my open enrollment class on Grammar and Proofreading.  Auburn University Montgomery is offering it on April 27.


FIVE typos in one advertisement! Whoops!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Some people think I am overly picky about correct grammar and usage, but I believe most everyone would agree that the ad I've reprinted here is unacceptable. A spell checker, used by either the tinting company or by the newsletter editor who printed this ad, would have caught all five spelling/typos Glitches.

 

Whoops #1: When converting DAMAGE to DAMAGING, the writer should drop the E before adding ING.

Whoops #2: IBLE and ABLE are similar suffixes that can be added to the end of a word. VISIBLE uses the IBLE suffix, not ABLE.

Whoops #3: The prefix that means "across" is TRANS, not TRAN, so this word should be TRANSMISSION.

Whoops #4: The word EXPERIENCE has four syllables, so the "I" cannot be left out.

Whoops #5: The word REFERENCES comes from the word REFER, so the "E" between the "F" and the "R" cannot be left out.

Whoops #6: Commas always go inside the quotation marks in the USA, as in "Products,"

Whoops #7: It is not a good idea to put quotation marks around the words PRODUCTS, SERVICE or WARRANTY in an advertisement.  Quotation marks around a word suggest that it is a substitue for the real thing, which is the exact opposite of what is meant.

The Grammar Glitches above should be corrected this way:

  • Reduce damaging UV rays
  • Visible Light Transmissions

Over 50 years combined experience!

Licensed & insured with references in your community!

We offer the Very Best in Products, Service & Warranty in the Business!


Quotation marks? Commas and periods go INSIDE.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Now that fall is here, my local ladies' club newsletter is arriving in the mailbox again, and the first issue contains a number of Grammar Glitches.  Here is the first one (with names changed), in a calendar listing for the coming year:

 November   "A Musical Visit with John Doe", Artistic Director for X Theater

Whoops! The comma after John Doe's name should be INSIDE the quotation marks.  Commas and periods ALWAYS go inside the quotation marks in English in the United States.  The calendar listing should read this way:

 November "A Musical Visit with John Doe," Artistic Director for X Theater

Here is another example from the same newsletter, in a sentence about a tablescapes competition:

Other designers  included:  Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves" and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves".

Whoops again!  Several times!  First, when INCLUDED is used in the body of a sentence, it should not be followed by a colon. 

Second, it is correct to place the semicolon after the word BACK outside the quotation marks, but for consistency, there should also be one after LEAVES. Semicolons and colons always go outside the quotation marks. The semicolon is used here (correctly) because there are commas within the items in the series. 

Third, the period at the end of the sentence should go inside the quotation marks.  This sentence should read as follows:

Other designers included Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves"; and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves."

 PLEASE NOTE: If you would like me to do a blog post that offers a chart of where to place other punctuation marks in relationship to quotation marks, please let me know in the comment box.

Wh Other designers included: Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves" and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves".

 Other designers included: Jane Smith, "Welcome Back"; Betty Baker, "Autumn Leaves" and Cathy Carly, "Autumn Events" and "Lacy Leaves".

 

 

 

 


Question Marks and Quotation Marks? What goes where?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

The Final Jeopardy "answer" on last evening's broadcast of JEOPARDY! was a good one.  It had to do with the institution of Miranda rights, which were introduced in 1966.  The "question" was supposed to give the first seven words of the Miranda warning police recite to a suspect.  Here is what one of the contestants wrote:

What is "You have the right to remain silent?"

This was the correct "question," and all three contestants got it.  Pretty much anyone who has watched police shows over the past 40 years would know this, and the current champion bet enough money to win with it.  However, as written on his electronic answer pad, the punctuation was incorrect.

The rule is that a question mark only goes inside the quotation marks when what is quoted is a question.  In this case, what is inside the quotation marks is a statement.  Therefore, the question mark goes outside the quotation marks.  It should be written this way:

What is "You have the right to remain silent"?

 

 NOTE: This rule holds true for exclamation points as well as question marks.  As I have noted in other posts, the period and the comma ALWAYS go inside the quotation marks.

COMMENT: I don't make these rules, which can be confusing.  I just try to remind readers so they can use them correctly.

 


Period goes INSIDE the quotation marks in the US (comma, too)

Friday, January 7th, 2011

In 2011 in the USA, commas and periods go inside the quotation marks–no exceptions.  Here are two examples from that newsletter I mentioned yesterday:

Our theme is "Rhinestones and Wranglers".

Please clearly mark the envelope "XXX Luncheon".

In both of these examples, the period should be placed inside the quotation marks.  The fact that what is quoted is not a complete sentence does not affect this decision.  The sentences should appear this way:

 Our theme is "Rhinestones and Wranglers."

 

Please clearly mark the envelope "XXX Luncheon."