It’s crunch time, people.
So I’m going to give you a super speedy grammar lesson on punctuation. Why should I clog your brain with boring punctuation rules when you have a helpful grammar check on Microsoft Word? Here’s why: Word does not highlight this error. Thanks, Microsoft!
Okay, so dialogue is an outrageously excellent tool for making your story pop. It brings us right into the scene and it makes it seem as though you’re telling us a story at a party rather than reading to us from your diary.
But, of course, there are punctuation rules that must come into play. And here is the most vital rule to remember:
- A comma or period should be placed inside a closing quotation mark.
Correct: He said, “I really want to have a dog.”
Incorrect: He said, “I really want to have a dog”.
Did you notice that I put inside in bold? And italicized it? And underlined it? That’s because this is by far the most common grammar mistake I encounter when editing.
“But Rosie,” you may be asking yourself. “If everyone’s doing it, it must be okay, right?”
Honestly, I saw this mistake so many times that I thought I must be wrong—I must have my grammar rules crossed. But lo and behold, the incomparable Grammar Girl backed me up. As it turns out, American English puts the commas and periods inside quotation marks while British English puts the commas and periods outside quotation marks. By George, she’s got it! As much as I love mimicking Eliza Doolittle’s harsh Cockney accent (much to the chagrin of everyone around me), I must urge you to buy American and write American if you live in America and are applying to an American school.
And so, my fellow Americans, the time has come for you to review your college essay for punctuation errors. If you need a second set of eyes, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for info on my final essay proofreading service. I will make sure your essay is as American as the World Series.
Need extra help? Meet me in cyberspace!
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