Monday, June 20, 2011

Quotation Marks? Prepositions? Confused?

Grammarian myths abound in the United States. I believe no one knows all the rules of our convoluted grammar that evolved over the years.

Some people think they know a rule and become annoyed when someone doesn’t follow “the rule.”  Recently, I have seen writers buying into a couple of myths, and, while I certainly don’t claim to know all the rules, I do have a handle on these two.

First let’s examine just one of the uses of quotation marks, partial quotes. I hang my head in shame on this one. I confess I used quotations marks incorrectly for years. Finally I repented when someone had the courage to point out the errors of my ways.

This is correct:

Some people believe life is more than a “walking shadow.”

This is incorrect:

Some people believe life is more than a “walking shadow”.

A partial quotation ends with the period first and then quotation marks in the United States.

Now to move on to the next myth, ending sentences with prepositions. Even after reading Winston Churchill’s famous quote, some people still do not get it. Churchill apparently wrote the following to an editor who had changed one of his sentences: “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”  In a misguided effort, the editor rearranged the sentence in question to avoid ending it with a preposition, infuriating Churchill. (For more information concerning the quote, check out this link: “Churchill” on Prepositions.)

It is okay to end a sentence with a preposition.

Sometimes ending with a preposition is the best way to end . . . .



  1. It is true that rules do evolve and change over time, too. Take for instance, comma usage. That has definitely changed, according to Strunk and White.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Tracy. One thing I need to point out is to not use unnecessary prepositions.

    In the case of this post, "on" is not necessary.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.