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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Criminal Sentence 525: Punctuating Speech

From a book I'm reading:

"'We've landed at Garden City Regional, ready for phase two,' he said."

Ready for a period also?

Just because it's casual speech doesn't mean you can dispense with punctuation. Let's fix it:

"'We've landed at Garden City Regional. Ready for phase two,' he said."


Anonymous said...

I am having a hard time figuring out what the internal quotation marks are all about and why "he said" is enclosed in the quotations.

Without context, this is how I see the sentence corrected and punctuated:

"We've landed at Garden City Regional and are ready for phase two," he said.

Anonymous said...

To me, this read as if the speaker was already in the condition of readiness as he arrived. 'I'm here, and hungry', for example. Whether this is the meaning intended by the author is another question.

Destiny said...

I second the recast by anon 1.

Anonymous said...

Ready is an adjective and modifies "we." Other than the confusing quotation marks, the sentence appears to be fine.

Chelle said...

Anonymous 1 said, "I am having a hard time figuring out what the internal quotation marks are all about and why 'he said' is enclosed in the quotations."

The reason "he said" is in quotation marks is because this is part of a quote. The internal quotation marks are because it's a quote within a quote.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chelle. But I still have an issue with it, a logic thing perhaps. If you move the "he said" to the front of the sentence, which would be its natural place, you would have this:

"He said [that]'we've....'"

What follows "he said" would be a noun clause as would be the case if you ended the sentence with "is what he said."

I am wondering if the "he said" at the end of this sentence sounds natural because it normally ends a quote, but not necessarily a quote within a quote.

Is it serving double duty? It is a bit of a mindbender.

Anonymous said...

Disregard my last post. I have gotten myself twisted around for no good reason.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Sorry for the confusion about the quotation marks. I always quote the exact sentence so I put quotation marks. When the quotation is a quotation, then I have to use single quotation marks within double quotation marks.