Help A Girl Out With Her Periods

Oh, come on, I don’t mean that kind of period. Good god, I don’t even floss my teeth in front of my husband. Do you really think I’d discuss personal feminine issues? But I had to rope you in somehow, and now that I’ve trapped you (just ask GM Barlean how good I am at that), I hope you’ll stick around.

Kids, there’s a boring topic in the neighborhood today. Let’s try to make it fun.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I need to confirm where to put periods when dealing with quotation marks that set off titles or quoted or spoken language—is it before or after the final quotation mark? For example, which of the following is correct?

A. My son’s favorite new made-up word is “paenus”. It is a combination of his two other favorite words “penis” and “anus”.

Or would it be:

B. My sons call my Prius the “Vagina Car.

Although the content of those examples is regrettably true, ignore the implied parenting failure, and tell me where to put the freaking period. Is it after the final quotation mark as in exhibit A or before the final mark as in exhibit B?

The Elements of Style was no help, so I reached out to my good friend Google. From the Guide to Grammar and Writing, I found the following:

“In the United States, periods and commas go inside quotation marks regardless of logic.”

Well, that’s a shocker.

The fact that my chubby, reality-TV obsessed country defies logic will surprise no one, but the source goes on to say that in the American style, the period goes before the final quotation mark as such: “paenus.” But in the United Kingdom, Canada, and other locations influenced by British education, the period goes after the final quotation mark like this: “anus”. The same holds true for commas.

Fair enough. Clear as chocolate pudding, though I still prefer the Bristish way. But what about punctuation other than periods and commas? Well, according to the same source, all other marks follow the final quotation mark, as in:

A. Shouldn’t a father intervene when a son swats his mother’s fanny with a dishtowel, laughs, and calls her “jiggly butt”?

Or

B. Sometimes I enjoy a good shimmy and shake to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” or a pleasant head bobbing to Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”; nothing clears a room faster.

These last two examples apply to Americans as well as those from other lands. The punctuation part, that is. Not the jiggly butt part…

Image credit: zazzle.com

So, tell me, do I have my facts straight? Have I interpreted these rules correctly? And for those of you who aren’t writers or who couldn’t give a ferret’s foreskin about periods and commas, what loving terms do your children call you? Your significant others? What songs get you hopping? Are daughters as fascinated with human anatomy as sons? Whatever you’ve got, I’ll take it.

155 Responses to “Help A Girl Out With Her Periods”

  1. Chris Biscuits

    I know it’s not really dead-on-topic, but two of my favourite self-made curse words are ‘penarse’, the hideous hybrid of a penis and an arse, much like your son, and ‘anarse’, the even more repugnant combination of an anus and an arse, if you can imagine such a thing.

    Great post, sorry about my mind being in the gutter!

    Like

    • crubin

      Words like that are a common occurence in my house, so no apologies needed. Tends to happen with two sons, both of whom would enormously enjoy your self-made words. In fact, you would rate highly in their minds because of them.

      I appreciate you visiting so many of my posts and for your comments. Is much appreciated.
      :)

      Like

      • Chris Biscuits

        Well, that’s made my day! Another good crude portmanteau is ‘custard’, a medley of ‘bastard’ and the Worst Word in the World, and acceptable in polite company.

        No problem, I like to be thorough.:) I came to WordPress a newbie, just to talk at people, but I’ve ‘met’ so many excellent folks here, and they’ve all got something great to say.

        Like

        • crubin

          I agree–the commenting and responding to others’ comments can be the best part.

          As for “custard,” thank goodness my boys haven’t caught onto that “c” word yet. Of course, they’d face serious consequences if they said it in my home. But “penis,” “anus,” and “vagina”? No problem.
          :)

          Like

  2. Joanna Aislinn

    Okay, American way when I punctuate my quotable text. Music that NEVER fails to geet me moving (with lots of jiggling, I promise): Pibull’s THE ANTHEM and Ricky Martin’s THE CUP OF LIFE? Oh one more: J-Lo’s LET’S GET LOUD. Never ever fails to get my Latin on the shake.

    Like

    • crubin

      Pitbull is always good for some jiggling!

      Thanks for the feedback. This post really helped me. I now place my quotation mark related periods with confidence.
      :)

      Like

  3. legionwriter

    I had this pretty well settled in my mind as doing it the American way, until I got an iPad, and the auto-correct continually tries putting a period after my quotes. Then I started to wonder if my iPad knew something I didn’t. Now I know, my iPad is British!

    Like

    • crubin

      Ha! I never noticed that with my IPad or IPhone. I’ll have to pay attention next time I use it.
      :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Like

  4. susan sheldon nolen

    I just loved this! I grew up with English Grammar and the having lived in North America, learned the American way also. I am and will be also grammar dyslexic now as a result of this. I won’t even get into spelling…color colour…

    Like

    • crubin

      It’s funny, because I never paid much attention to these differences until I started blogging and got on Twitter and noticed the different styles and spellings: favorite/favourite, traveling/travelling, etc. I guess that’s what they have grammar books and the Internet for…

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Like

    • crubin

      Well, thank you! But sadly, I only have my son’s inappropriate language to thank for this one.
      :)

      Like

  5. sweetmother

    She-sus Christ, this is good. I mean, “FERRET’S FORESKIN???!!!!” Notice, i put the punctuation before the end quote there. so, true, carrie, so true. i have also struggled with this period issue. the truth is i tend to do grammar by “feel,” which is like saying that you do intricate carving by stabbing. xoxo

    Like

    • crubin

      “Grammar by ‘feel’,”–I love that. “By feel” also seems to be the technique I used to write my first novel, which I’m discovering now that I’m reading all of the how-to manuals. Whoops. Probably should have gone there first…

      Thanks for stopping by, Missy. I know you are swimming in a world of chaos at the present time. You just need your Gayby. That will certainly slow things down…
      😉

      Like

  6. emma

    According to http://www.grammartips.homestead.com: All periods and commas go within the quotes in the US, no exceptions ; question marks and exclamation marks are placed “logically.” Also,

    “And just why, you may ask, do they belong there? Well, it seems to be the result of historical accident. When type was handset, a period or comma outside of quotation marks at the end of a sentence tended to get knocked out of position, so the printers tucked the little devils inside the quotation marks to keep them safe and out of trouble. But apparently only American printers were more attached to convenience than logic, since British printers continued to risk the misalignment of their periods and commas.”

    My favorite stupid rule is: Rule 4 from http://www.grammarbook.com

    Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes. Note that the period goes inside all quote marks.

    Example:
    He said, “Danea said, ‘Do not treat me that way.'”

    Ah! Triple quotes! Or single-double quotes!

    Like

    • crubin

      Thanks so much for that link! Looks like a useful site. I tagged it to my favorites for future reference. And thanks for the history on this whole inside/outside thing. Very interesting. My only confusion now is that a couple of the readers noted that the use of single quotatations is becoming more mainstream, and in this case, the period goes on the outside of the single quote, regardless whether US or British way. Yikes, my head is spinning!

      Like

  7. emma

    Thank you for several things:
    1. A lesson in making your title a good hook
    2. Permission to start using all the words I thought were verboten in polite speak
    AND,
    3. A chance to grind my teeth and scratch my eyes out publicly.

    I hate this topic. I’ve never gotten it right/write and you will find my posts filled with all the variations mentioned above! What I think is right (American schooling) is the the “full stop” (love that terminology!) goes within the quote marks. EXCEPT (you knew there would be one) for something….I can’t remember what it is, I just know how to do it. I think.

    PS, I majored in English so this is the final word. Sort of. Maybe. Possibly. Crap.

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh, boy, if you majored in English and still get confused, there is no hope for me!

      Like

  8. Arizona girl

    I always put the periods inside the quotes, but the exclamation points and question marks outside the quotes, unless they’re part of the quote (like you quoted an exclamation of surprise or a question). But, in Germany they put the periods outside the quotes, so now I’m all confused. Oh well.

    Whenever I’m vexed, it’s definitely time to put on I’m Sexy And I Know It or Welcome to St. Tropez and shake my booty!!!

    Like

    • crubin

      Who would have thought that those of you passing the time in a foreign country would have to modify your punctuation patterns?! It’s always something…

      I think “I’m Sexy and I Know It” would be a very motivating song for your clients.
      :)

      Like

    • crubin

      I guarantee you will never see a post about PMS on my blog. On the other hand, posts about bowel habits (though not my own) are quite likely. Go figure.
      :)

      Like

  9. subtlekate

    With a British education I did put them outside the marks, but not always, there are exceptions just to frustrate us, but having written my dissertation in the US, I quickly moved to putting them inside the marks as per the standard at the time and have pretty much stuck with that. I hate unlearning a habit. Or is that just laziness? I shall ask SBM. He is the grammar king.

    Like

    • crubin

      Okay, now I am embarrassed. Who is SBM?

      One would think I would have already learned this rule. After all, I wrote a book and have written in my profession for years, including a recent master’s thesis that resulted in a publication. But for some reason, this little quotation mark/period thing slipped by me (and of course, I’m not talking about use of it in a full sentence or dialogue–I’m not that daft!)

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight. Is always appreciated!

      Like

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