Sometimes the comma seems to have a lot in common with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s daughter, the antagonist of the poem he allegedly penned that became a nursery rhyme.
“There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.”
The comma seems like a good little curl, rather friendly and sweet when nestled in a sentence. But it can get pretty horrid when it’s forced to share a sentence with a quotation mark.
In the last week alone, MaliaMania has witnessed firsthand many instances of incorrect comma and quotation mark mangling.
Wrong: “The curl was really the villain here”, he said.
Right: “The curl was really the villain here,” he said.
Rephrasing the quote as a question seems to take the issue from horrid to horrendous.
Is choice 1) or 2) the right answer?
1) “Was the curl really the villain here?”, she asked.
2)“Was the curl really the villain here?,” she asked.
Curses! On my Mac, I get the evil green squiggly underline from Microsoft Word in both of them. But on my PC, the squiggly underline only screams at me on choice 1). My advice: do an end run and go with AP Style. They recommend just removing the comma altogether, like so:
“Was the curl really the villain here?” she asked.
Moral of the story of Comma Sutra II: “The little girl with the curl rhyme often scared small females into submission in the 1950s and 60s and probably caused the Equal Rights Amendment to fall three states short of the 38 needed for ratification in the 70s.”
Note that 1950s, 60s and 70s in the totally made-up quote above don’t need an apostrophe. They are plurals, not possessives.
If you want to confuse yourself further, click on Old Posts at the end of this page, and find Comma Sutra I from August 9, 2013. Even grammar nerds procrastinate, right?