Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Today's English lesson

From EnglishPlus:

Commas with Quotations

Commas are used to set off the "he said/she said" clause. The comma always goes before the quotation marks.

Incorrect: Henrietta asked "Do you want to go with me?"
(Comma must set off "she said" clause.)

Incorrect: Henrietta asked",Do you want to go with me?"
(Comma must go before quotation mark.)

Correct: Henrietta asked,"Do you want to go with me?"

Incorrect: "I will go with you",Jane replied.
(Comma must go before quotation mark.)

Correct: "I will go with you,"Jane replied.

Correct: "Anyway," she said, "I have to go."
(Note the pattern when the clause is in the middle.)

A comma is not used to set off a "he said/she said" clause if the part of the quotation preceding the clause ends with a question mark or exclamation point.

Incorrect: "Why did you do that?," he asked.
(Comma not necessary)

Correct: "Why did you do that?" he asked.

Correct: "Hey!" he screamed. "Come back here!"
(Note that the question mark or exclamation point goes with the quotation, not with the "he said/she said" clause.)

Are y'all sick of commas yet? They're fascinating little critters and vastly misused... but try living without them and your writing will be strained and confusing. Better just to learn to use them effectively and appropriately.

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