queston for you grammar nerds

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Lothlorien, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I use that term know I love you and I am a grammar nerd also.

    I need to know when to use " versus '

    For says to quote something that another doctor uses. Okay fine. I use "yada, yada yada."

    However, when he says:

    The radiologist did not use the term herniated disc.

    Would I use "herniated disc" or 'herniated disc' ??

    I can't seem to find the way to use that symbol. Other than apostrophe, what would that (') be called?
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    LOL ok, it's called a single quote. Apostrophe works when it's part of a conjunction (as in - it is to it's). But it's a single quote when used the way you wish to use it.

    Now for the grammar lesson... This is NOT set in stone, but it's the recommended usage per the MLA Handbook. In the United States, and some other countries (but not all, including the UK), when you are quoting someone, it goes into double quotes. For instance: The radiologist did not use the term "herniated disc".

    That said, dialogue gets odd. Let me put that into perspective:
    Sammy looked at Jimmy and sighed, "The radiologist did not use the term 'herniated disc'. He did, however, describe one!"

    So if it's dialogue and being quoted, it goes in single quotes, because the dialogue itself goes in double quotes.

    And if you're texting? All of what I just said goes buh-bye. Because there's no double-quote. They're singles. And I'm not about to hit 1-up-up-right-1-up-up-right (or worse, 1-down-down-down-down-down-down-down-down-down-down-down-right for each quote) when I can use 1-space-then my text-space-1. As in - a period.

    Have I lost you?

    ...This is what happens when someone who has an English degree doesn't get to use it much. I get intolerable.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    What Step said. LOL!
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Yup. What Step said.

    For your context Loth, use the double quotes.

    In the UK, the double-quote-single-quote convention is reversed, but that would just confuse the issue further.
  5. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Personally, I wouldn't put it in any kind of quotation, because no one is being quoted. I only use quotation marks (") when the dr. actually says "the radiologist did not use the term quote herniated disk unquote". If the doctor is just stating that "the radiologist did not use the term herniated disk", I don't think I would quote that at all.

    The pt states her back is killing her.
    The pt states, "My back is killing me." - even if doctor didn't say "quote", I would quote this.

    I don't believe I've ever used the single quotation - but what Step says makes sense.

    by the way, I realize we're using different spellings of disk/disc. My co.'s edict is that disc is only for eyes (because there's an I and a C in it, as in "I see") and everything else is a disk. So much for consistency in the MT world, LOL.
  6. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    I am a grammar nerd as well. English major grammar nerd in fact. Tried hard to learn all the picky details most people find useless and trivial.

    I've always called it an "inner quote" or "quote within a quote." Not used otherwise as a quotation mark. I'd call the mark "single quote" if I had to give it a name, such as when an editor is reading letter by letter and mark for mark for proofreading purposes. Yes, I used to be an editor too.

    For example, Dr. Smith said, "I want you to visit Dr. Jones and tell him Dr. Williams said thinks the problem is a 'herniated disk with a specific bulge toward the right blah, blah, blah.'"

    For a teacher example, Johnny said to Sue, "Please get to work. Didn't you hear when Mrs. Jones said, 'I'm going to take away recess if I don't have everyone's cooperation'?"

    Yuck. This one is complex because question marks go outside the quotation marks unless the portion inside is a question. In this example, Mrs. Jones made a statement and did not ask a question. Johnny had the question. Compare:

    Johnny said to Sue, "Please get to work. Didn't you hear when Mrs. Jones said, 'Don't you realize I'll take away recess if I don't have everyone's cooperation?'"

    Here, Johnny and Mrs. Jones both asked questions, so the question mark goes inside both. Furthermore...

    Johnny said to Sue, "Please get to work. Didn't you hear when Mrs. Jones said, 'Don't you realize I'll take away recess if I don't have everyone's cooperation?' I'm going to be so mad at you if you cost us recess."

    Periods and commas always inside quotes, question marks and exclamations inside only if portion inside is question or exclamation.

    Are you sorry you asked yet?
  7. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    Ah, I see while I was typing, many other folks were typing faster. I also see we don't all exactly agree. Take your pick!
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911

    why not put [foot note 1] and at the bottom list

    1. herniated disc
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    To be more general - what Step is describing is a nested quote. When dialogue is quoting, the inner quote gets the single quote where the dialogue is in double quotes, but where the dialogue is in single quotes, the nested quote (the inner bit being quoted) gets double quote marks.

    It alternates. Whichever is the convention (and in some cases, it's a matter of personal preference of the writer), the first nested quote gets the opposite. But if, heaven forbid, there is a nest quote inside the nested quote, then it goes back to the double quote.

    I'll try and demonstrate (warning - it gets complicated) -

    Jack called Jenny over. "Jenny, when I said, 'Jump!', I meant you to really leap high."
    Jenny replied, "Thanks for clarifying. By the way, Peter said to say to you, 'Will you ask Jack if he told the teacher, "Get lost!"? Because I heard that Jack got suspended.' So, Jack, did you? Get suspended, I mean."

    Technically, that is how you do it. But in practical terms, it can get too complicated for a reader to bother with trying to keep track. And when you lose your readers, it doesn't matter if you are being grammatically correct.

    Also take note of where I put the exclamation marks and the question marks.

    On the spelling of disc/disk - in Australia, computers have disks. Everything else is a disc. The reason - Australian English/UK English convention spells it as "disc". But US conventional spelling of "disk" is used in computing, because a lot of computer-related production and marketing has come out of Silicon Valley, and the US convention tends to stand in computing terminology.

    Other changes in UK/Aussie English are happening - "program" is a US spelling originally. It especially related to computer programming, but increasingly in Australia we talk about TV "programs" and not "programmes" which is how it was spelt when I was in school. For years I insisted on "programme" but I realise increasingly this is chauvinistic. I'm learning to give in. A lot of other "-amme" words have gone the same way, been shortened to the US spelling (saves ink and paper).

    C'est la vie...


    When I was a kid, the Aussie convention was for dialogue to be in double quotes. But increasingly lately, I'm being asked to use single quotes. I prefer double, but I will follow the convention my writer insists on, especially where that writer has academic experience and strong preference. There is a lot more flexibility these days; conventions change, rules change.