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Question for the grammar police

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by A.Nonymous, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    I know there are grammar police out there because this is the Internet after all. I'm doing paperwork at work and am in a minor discussion about grammar. What is the correct way of stating the following:

    A. Spoke with Joe, who said, "blah blah blah................."
    B. Spoke with Joe who said, "blah blah blah................."

    I await the verdict with baited breath.

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  2. TxGoat

    TxGoat Guest

    They're both sentence fragments...... :p

  3. doniago

    doniago Android Enthusiast

    ^Agreed with the above, but I would include the comma in A. In general, if you would pause in the middle of a sentence when speaking it aloud, a comma is a good idea.
    novox77 and Frisco like this.
  4. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    But I wouldn't pause in that sentence. I might say something like - Spoke with Steve Jobs who said, "The iPhone is the greatest thing in history." I wouldn't pause if I was saying that sentence.

    Edit: As I look over what I'm trying to write up I don't actually have a quote here. I talked to someone who told me something. So it's more like, "Spoke with Joe who said there were no problems." To me it's a comma splice if I say, "Spoke with Joe, who said there were no problems."
  5. Frisco

    Frisco =Luceat Lux Vestra=

    Yep (doniago).

    You picked one of the more flexible of punctuation rules, A.Nonymous. There are rules for use of the comma, but there is a bit more leeway in some circumstances, such as the oral pause doniago points out.

    Both of your samples are correct, with the one including the comma after, "Joe" being the most popular among "grammar police," or people who listened in English class. ;)

    The reasoning would be that there are two predicate phrases there, "(Understood, "I") Spoke with Joe, and "who said," with it's own verb, "said."

    By the way, I'd not leave out the pronoun, "I" as the first word of the sentence, if I were taking a test. ;)
    olbriar likes this.
  6. tommy_ed

    tommy_ed Android Expert

    what I've been confused about is proper punctuation when using quotation marks not associated with dialogue.

    For example:

    A. The sign changed from "walk," to "don't walk," to "walk" again
    B. The sign changed from "walk", to "don't walk", to "walk" again

    I have found places stating either way. I was always taught to put punctuation within the quotation marks, but it doesn't seem to make sense in certain situations.
  7. 330D

    330D From My Cold Dead Hands

    I spoke with Joe, and he said, "blah blah blah blah."

    That would be best... Just to be correct about it. In my opinion, the fragment ruins the whole thing anyway. If it has to be written as a fragment, a comma in both spots seems the appropriate way to me.

    This is one of those weird situations where I don't think there is a perfect answer to the question, though.
  8. SUroot

    SUroot Extreme Android User

    Personally, I don't think there are any commas.

    I wouldn't phrase it that way on paper though.

    I have spoken with Joe. He said there should be no problems.
  9. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Is it really a fragment? I think the subject is implied. Or am I not allowed to imply a first person subject? I can't remember. I know you can imply a second person subject like, "Take out the trash." or the one I hear frequently, "Go hang yourself." The subject (you) is implied. I can't remember if I'm allowed to do that in the first person if I'm narrating what I did. Clearly I was not paying attention in English class.
  10. Frisco

    Frisco =Luceat Lux Vestra=

    "Take out the trash" is not past tense, but "Took out the trash" is, so "I took out the trash" is correct, where as "Took out the trash" is not.

    Thus, "Spoke with so and so.." is not correct. "I spoke with so and so" is.
  11. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Android Expert

    Clarify please. Are you asking about proper grammar or punctuation? It seems you are asking about the use of the little comma, is that approximate?

    I think you forgot the personal pronoun, I. "I spoke with Joe and he said blah blah blah." Otherwise, one might ask who exactly spoke with Joe?

    "I spoke with Joe . . ." and "Spoke with Joe . . " both work informally, however.

    By the way, when you ask your question in a writer's list, group, or forum, be prepared for dozens of different ideas. I always defer to the 'Chicago Manual of Style' and 'Strunk and White' to answer these questions.
  12. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Punctuation. It's been pointed out that the grammar is wrong which I freely admit. I'd gripe about that, but I did ask for input from the grammar police so I'm getting what I asked for I guess. Is the comma in the right place? Is it needed? That's my question.
  13. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Android Expert

    Quotation marks can be difficult. What is correct and proper depends on who you ask or which web sites (lots of grammar and punctuation sites out there) you visit.

    In example "B" you have the commas outside of the punctuation marks. It looks rather odd so I would leave out the commas altogether. Some reference materials say commas must be inside of the quotes if you feel the need to use them.

    I would do this: "The sign changed from "walk" to "don't walk" to "walk" again." I would most definitely not use any commas.
  14. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Android Expert

    Why not simplify?

    I hate 'blah blah blah' so I will change your sentence to: "I spoke with Joe, and he said the Smith order is ready."

    Why not write this:

    "Joe told me the Smith order is ready."

    You eliminate the need for a comma (Yes, in thinking about your specific example, I would likely use a comma) and personal pronouns. The sentence says everything you need to say.
  15. SUroot

    SUroot Extreme Android User

    I agree, because "to", "and" and "but" (for example) are all words which articulate or flowingly join the words they stand between and do not use a comma. In fact I would go as far to say that a comma would be wrong.

    That said, if you list these words how I just did ("to", "and" and "but"), a comma would be required.

    Back to the original example... I still feel the commas shouldn't be there at all.
  16. tommy_ed

    tommy_ed Android Expert

    I can agree with that but it still doesn't answer my original question lol
  17. SUroot

    SUroot Extreme Android User


    Well both of your examples are wrong IMHO. There should be no commas.

    In regards to commas and quotations, where it isn't using words previously mentioned...


    He was a rebel. If the sign said "dont walk", he would walk. If the sign said "walk", he stood still.

    Unless the sign itself literally said "dont walk," with a comma on the end, the comma would have no place in the quotation. If you are quoting a sign, you only quote what is actually on the sign. In a sentence where you are quoting several signs and commas are required, they would be outside the quotations
  18. tommy_ed

    tommy_ed Android Expert

    i agreed with that in the statement above your post. i was pointing out that it never answered my original question of whether punctuation should always be used within the quotation marks, or if they can be used outside in certain situations. you are merely saying in my example there would be no commas. so basically i used a poor example. let me try something else

    A. He called his car a "beater," which didn't make sense considering how good of shape it was in.

    B. He called his car a "beater", which didn't make sense considering how good of shape it was in.
  19. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    I think they go inside.

    "That referee is terrible. He's clearly screwing the team," the sportscaster said.
  20. TxGoat

    TxGoat Guest

    In Texas, "Bad Grammer" means that your grandmother got into the liquor cabinet.
  21. ninja_reject

    ninja_reject Android Enthusiast

    Aww, that is terrible! Who frequently tells you to go hang yourself?
  22. SUroot

    SUroot Extreme Android User

    Yes I know you did. I then went on to answer your question in my opinion. basically everything you didn't quote.

    Any way, taken from Oxford University:

    Punctuation - University of Oxford

    tommy_ed likes this.
  23. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    I still don't get why you would take a breath in the middle of the original sentence.

    "Spoke with Joe, who said everything was fine."

    Personally, if I'm speaking that sentence I'm not going to take a breath there. It still smells like a comma splice to me.
  24. SUroot

    SUroot Extreme Android User

    In that particular sentence, nor would I
  25. tommy_ed

    tommy_ed Android Expert

    most of that makes sense, however the use of single and double quotations seems reversed compared to anything I've ever been taught. I mean even in every book I've ever read, it's always been double for any dialogue or quotations with single quotations within dialogue.

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