Practical Punctuation: That Pertinent Period

well-tempered-sentence-gordon-1983Back in February we started to take a look at the importance of punctuation, using Karen E. Gordon’s fun little book The Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1983).

Let’s continue by considering part of her first section on the period – yes, that little dot (.) at the end of sentences and other significant parts of words and writings.

Most of what she includes here is obvious and already known. But there are two aspects to the use of the period that we (I include myself) often forget and misuse.

For our benefit, I post those here today, along with her helpful examples (the main points are in bold). I cannot, however, duplicate her fancy stem with leaves at the beginning of these points. You will simply have to picture them where the bullets are.

  • Do not use a period at the end of a sentence that is part of another sentence.
    The rage and irony in his voice (I could hardly fail to notice the scorn with which he addressed me) alternated with a solicitous smile.

    Le Beau’s remonstrance, ‘You are always late and unwelcome besides,’ made her apologize and cry.

 

  • Periods belong inside parentheses or brackets enclosing an independent sentence. If the enclosure is part of a larger sentence, the period is placed outside the parentheses or brackets. Periods go within quotation marks except when single quotation marks set off special terms.

    They were curled up beside their radio listening to Gustav Mahler’s “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart.”

    We were hard at work on the second revision when Samuel slapped my face. (He had shown such irrational devotion to his own opinions before.)

    She said, “I have just finished writing ‘The Treacherous Bend in the Rainbow.'”

 

These points and examples are found on pages 16-17.

 

Published in: on April 3, 2018 at 10:22 PM  Leave a Comment