Grammar Quiz

Today’s quiz is on punctuation – commas and apostrophe marks, really. I’d like to venture into more interesting territory than I do below, but there’s too much here that we (Yanks and Brits) disagree on.

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For example, you may have noticed in reading this blog that I just cannot get used to putting a period outside the closing quotation mark in instances where that applies. What’s that poor little dot doing out there all by itself? It looks so weak, brittle, unsteady.

Whereas in the American system, living as it does inside the sturdy and salubrious embrace of the quotation mark, that dot takes on a wholly different character: it’s a proper anchor, an emphatic and unmistakable end to the sentence. And I don’t even wanna get into quotation marks and question marks. Heebie-jeebies.

Anyway. Here are your three questions. This week, I’ve decided just to put the answers below the fold. But no peekies. Either post your comment before looking at the answers, or be honest with us. And meanwhile I’ll be honest with you: I would have gotten number two right based on instinct, but I didn’t know (or had long forgotten) the actual rule until looking it up today.

1. Explain which two of the following four sentences are correct, and why:

a. I sliced the potatoes, and diced the onions. b. I sliced the potatoes, and I diced the onions. c. I sliced the potatoes and I diced the onions. d. I sliced the potatoes and diced the onions.

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December 19, 2009

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