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Placement of comma Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2018 9:34:07 PM
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I went to see Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Midnight in Paris,” with my oldest friend, Jessie.

I believe the comma should be outside the closing inverted commas, in British English? Am I correct?

Thanks.
FounDit
Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2018 10:07:39 PM

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Koh Elaine wrote:
I went to see Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Midnight in Paris,” with my oldest friend, Jessie.

I believe the comma should be outside the closing inverted commas, in British English? Am I correct?

Thanks.


It looks wrong to me because the comma is not part of the title of the movie, and I think that would be true for the British as well.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
crosswired
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 1:34:58 AM

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maybe I would rework the sentence to forego the commas.

My oldest friend Jessie and I went to see Woody Allen's latest movie "Midnight in Paris".
Koh Elaine
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 6:43:34 AM
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FounDit wrote:
Koh Elaine wrote:
I went to see Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Midnight in Paris,” with my oldest friend, Jessie.

I believe the comma should be outside the closing inverted commas, in British English? Am I correct?

Thanks.


It looks wrong to me because the comma is not part of the title of the movie, and I think that would be true for the British as well.

Thanks, FounDit.

Do you mean that in American English, the comma should also be outside the closing inverted commas?
leonAzul
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 9:01:16 AM

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Koh Elaine wrote:
FounDit wrote:
Koh Elaine wrote:
I went to see Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Midnight in Paris,” with my oldest friend, Jessie.

I believe the comma should be outside the closing inverted commas, in British English? Am I correct?

Thanks.


It looks wrong to me because the comma is not part of the title of the movie, and I think that would be true for the British as well.

Thanks, FounDit.

Do you mean that in American English, the comma should also be outside the closing inverted commas?


Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, because "rules" of punctuation in English are guided by style and appearance as much as they are guided by grammar.

The tendency, especially in documents generated from electronic sources, is for styles to converge on what is often referred to as logical punctuation.

Simply stated, when inverted commas (quotation marks) are used to set off a direct quote, some form of additional punctuation must be placed immediately before the closing; for most other uses, the punctuation goes outside.

The divergence in usage occurs historically due to innovations in American typography from around 150 years ago. At that time, there was a movement to "clean up" the orthography of English in North America that resulted in a number of spelling and printing conventions that at the time were considered progressive and self-consciously American. Among those was adoption of a rule that additional punctuation should never be placed outside closing quotation marks — and by extension, parens, brackets, braces, etc.

The rationales are several:
     •Dangling punctuation is a nuisance to justify when setting up a page for printing on paper;
     •Misplaced punctuation interrupts the flow of the eye across the page, making it difficult to scan quickly,
     •and it looks ugly.

That's it in a nutshell. That style continued to be observed well into the 1990s, mostly because of the limitations of mechanical and electric typewriters of the era. As more text is written to be displayed on a screen instead of printed to paper, that style no longer makes sense.


"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
FounDit
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 12:29:52 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
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Koh Elaine wrote:
FounDit wrote:
Koh Elaine wrote:
I went to see Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Midnight in Paris,” with my oldest friend, Jessie.

I believe the comma should be outside the closing inverted commas, in British English? Am I correct?

Thanks.


It looks wrong to me because the comma is not part of the title of the movie, and I think that would be true for the British as well.

Thanks, FounDit.

Do you mean that in American English, the comma should also be outside the closing inverted commas?


Yes. As leon pointed out, the American styles differ. Normally, in the case of writing dialogue, all punctuation is usually inside the inverted commas. However, when simply writing a sentence such as you have done, the title, "Midnight in Paris", is extra information not necessary to the complete sentence. In such a case, this extra information would be set off with commas before and after the inverted commas (what we call quotation marks) just as I have done it.



We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
NKM
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 2:11:55 PM

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Joined: 2/14/2015
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I agree. What is within the quotation marks in this case is a title, not a quotation, and the comma is not part of that title. That is, it is not part of what belongs between the quotation marks, so it needs to be outside instead.

Koh Elaine
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 4:13:30 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/4/2012
Posts: 4,364
Neurons: 17,758
Thanks, everybody.
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