Irksome rules of grammar

I can NOT stand that rule about punctuation always going inside the "s. It is evil. It doesn’t add any meaning, so it’s just a way to be wrong without anyone actually having a problem understanding you. In fact, it actually takes out meaning, and causes confusion!

e.g. Did she say “splunge?”

The question mark isn’t part of what’s being quoted, so why the hell should it go inside the quotation marks? Same goes
for stuff like

He said “splunge,” which was rather peculiar.

The , is part of the sentence outside the "s.

Perhaps if you think stuff like a full stop both inside and outside the "s is ugly there should be a rule about only putting one, but I hate that bloody rule!

Anyone else with any grievances to air regarding stupid rules of grammar that don’t make sense?

I’m with you on the punctuation and quotes thing. This was voted on here:

Uh, it doesn’t. Only periods and commas go inside the quotes, unless they’re part of the quoted material. Your example would correctly read,

Did she say “splunge”?

But you would write,

I heard her ask, “Am I going the right way?” (No closing period required.)

I might also add that this is a matter of style, not a rigid rule. Here we are discussing American style. British style places periods and commas outside the quotes.

Typographically, I find the American style more pleasing because it does not leave the periods and commas hanging out there by their lonesome.

AARRGGH! Make that " . . .inside the quotes; other marks remain outside, unless. . . ."

Yeah, some rules of grammar are artificial and should be

The two that bug me the most, that I thought Cecil had
written columns about, but I can’t find, are:

  1. You can’t end a sentence with a preposition. My 11th
    grade English teacher said it could be equivocal, but
    couldn’t provide an example, and I thought I remembered that
    being mentioned in the column too, and also as a false

  2. You can’t split infinitives. Supposedly, this rule was
    added by one guy, because you can’t split infinitives in
    Latin (in Latin, of course, the infinitive is one word).
    I don’t have a source for the ‘one guy decided,’ though.

Yes, these are both artificial “rules” that any sensible editor usually ignores, for the reasons given. In both cases, the test is awkwardness; if the sentence can be recast to flow more smoothly and eliminate the “fault” without sounding artificially stilted, we go ahead and change it. In most cases, this results in improvement. However, the supposed Churchill quote of " . . . the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put" is a good example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Sorry I don’t have time to come up with more examples – I have a deadline today!

Cumber, the style you prefer is also referred to as “logical quoting”–I use it exclusively, editors be damned. The “standard” style (which I believe is doomed to fade away ) is purely the result of some typesetters’ sense of aesthetics. As more people are dragged kicking and screaming into computer literace, the practice of corrupting literal strings with external punctuation will die.

The “don’t split infinitives” rule is probably the one I break most often, followed by the “no preposition at the end of a sentence”. I tend to be quite anal about awkward expressions, though, so I often recast a sentence several times to avoid them.

I have been told that I use far too many parenthetical expressions, dashes, ellipses and compound-complex sentences–but I don’t believe it. :smiley:

I am against any grammar in the MLA handbook. What I hate most, though, it cites and works cited pages and all that stuff associated with research papers.
This is probably because I recently got a B on an English research paper. An A on content, but a C+ on grammar and MLA format. Grrrr.
Better work on that for my history paper and Governor’s School interview…

The rule about question marks and exclamation points going inside or outside the quotes is more than mere aesthetics; it does have to do with the sense of the sentence. Consider the following (admittedly lame) examples:
A. Bob said, “I like Spam”?
B. Bob said, “I like Spam?”

The only thing physically different about these two sentences is the placement of the question mark inside or outside the quote marks. The result is two sentences which are different in meaning. Sentence A seems to be someone incredulously asking if Bob indeed asserted that he likes Spam. The second implies that Bob, upon trying Spam, himself asks if it can be true: “I like Spam? Me, of all people?” Or, A is “questioning a quote,” while B is “quoting a question.” The question mark IS part of B’s quote.

There’s no reason not to.

Seriously though, this rule has been relaxed in recent years.

That rule has been relaxed as well. (Thank you, Captain Kirk!)

Me fail English? That’s unpossible!

Really? I never knew that. I’m an Aussie, and we normally go with the Brits on this sort of stuff, but I always got taught that punctuation stuff goes inside the quotes. To the point that I would probably have been marked down in my final year of English if I hadn’t submitted to the demands of my teacher.

Really? I’m Aussie too, but I’ve always put punctuation on the outside of the quote (unless it’s part of it) and never been told to do otherwise…