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Archive for June 25th, 2009

We saw this post on the ONION, and it sparked a reaction, so here we go, blogging again …

Road-Sign

(click here to see the post)

First, we would likely run off the road trying to read this entire sign … seems that might pose more danger than would the characteristics warned of in the sign.

Second, we see inconsistent and questionable grammar in a couple of places:

“… next 22 miles include a variety …”

At first glance, this may seem fine … miles can be counted, and they are talking about more than one mile, so it could be correct to use “22 miles” as plural. However, it could also be considered a “22-mile stretch of road coming up,” in which case, it would be treated as singular, and could read, “… the next 22 miles includes a variety …”

The main reason we even question this first point is because of this next point:

“… plus there’s a few blind corners …”

Now, the grammarian in us says that since corners is plural, the usage should be “there are,” or “there’re.” However, using the same type of reasoning we applied in the previous instance about the 22 miles, we could say that since “a few” is singular, the use of “there’s” (for there is) is acceptable.

 

It’s likely that the sign writer thought of neither of these issues, and, we’re just spending a Thursday evening picking at some rather obscure matters. But, isn’t that what this blogging business is all about? Plus, we’re having fun with our wonderfully-complex English language. Just be thankful that we’re not even going to mention the split infinitive, or the run-on nature of the entire sign (one sentence) because we love to use these types of items frequently …

How are you passing your time? Are you reading this and asking, “Who cares?”? At least you’re reading it! Thanks.

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By popular demand, we are resurrecting this post and adding commentary:

Our original post:

A reader writes questioning the loss of a singular noun with the word “none,” as it now seems to be considered normal usage.

Occasionally you may hear the refreshingly-correct: “None is …”

Motivated Grammar wrote:

Why is “none are” incorrect? I’ve marshalled a series of arguments for why it’s right, and would be interested in hearing why you disagree. In short, it’s been in use since [the year] 888 and “none” can behave as a semantic plural, so there doesn’t seem to be any reason to oppose it.

 And, our reply was:

Good question, thanks. The word “none” originated as a non-apostrophe contraction meaning “not one,” therefore, a singular pronoun. However, as you correctly point out, it has been used as a plural pronoun for ages. Most references now condone the commoner plural usage, so the only reason we have to oppose the plural is that we are, on most occasions, purists (or maybe just grammar snobs?)

For now, we’re sticking to our GrammarGuns … however, we will recommend leniency for anyone cited for using “none are.”

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The past day or two, at least among our followers, there has been a lot of buzz on Twitter about the use of punctuation – inside or outside the quotation marks.

First of all, what are “quotation marks”?

quotation mark. noun. one of the marks used to indicate the beginning and end of a quotation, in English usually shown as at the beginning and at the end.

  QMs2

Or, for a quotation within a quotation, of single marks of this kind, as “He said,I will go.” 

QMsSingle

Here’s some “scoop”:

QUOTATION MARKS – Quotation marks serve to indicate spoken dialog and to acknowledge specifically reproduced material.

a. Quotation marks are used to enclose direct quotations.

The supervisor said, “Come to my desk, young man.”

Note: Single quotation marks ( ‘  ‘ ) are used to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

The student asked, “Who popularized the statement ‘This is the best of all possible worlds’?”

b. Quotation marks should be used to enclose titles of short poems, stories, and articles that are usually printed as a part of a larger work.

She read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” from an anthology.

c. Quotation marks may be used to enclose a word used as a word (rather than for its meaning).

The word “school” brings back pleasant memories. And, do not overuse the word “and” in formal writing.

Now, let’s get to the more immediate question …

here or here with quotes

When other marks of punctuation are used with quotation marks, the following practices should be observed:

(1) A question mark or an exclamation point is placed inside the final quotation mark if it is part of the quotation, outside if it is part of the sentence that includes the quoted material.

part of quote

not part of quote

(2) Commas and periods are always placed inside the closing quotation marks.

periods and commas

(3) Semicolons and colons are always placed outside the closing quotation marks.

colons and semis

Click here to download the complimentary pdf document of these rules.

Sources: dictionary.com; Webster’s New World Secretarial Handbook. New Rev. Ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1981.

To keep it fun, we must include the following:

Air quotes, also called fingerquotes or Ersatz quotes (pronounced /ˈɛrzæts/) refers to using one’s fingers to make virtual quotation marks in the air when speaking. This is typically done with both hands held shoulder-width apart and at the eye level of the speaker, with the index and middle fingers on each hand forming a V sign and then flexing at the beginning and end of the phrase being quoted. The air-quoted phrase is generally very short — a few words at most — in common usage, though sometimes much longer phrases may be used for comic effect.

While the term “air quotes” did not appear until 1989, use of similar gestures has been recorded as early as 1927. A single handed quote is an equivalent, though less dramatic variation. This became very popular since the 1990s.

Air quotes are often used to express satire, sarcasm, irony or euphemism. In print, scare quotes fill a similar purpose.

air quotes

Source: Wikipedia

We also recommend visiting our friends over at The “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks.

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