Saturday, May 14, 2011

Punctured by Punctuation

from me 'nthedogs at Flickr
I love parenthetical sentences.  (Doesn't everyone?)

My problem, however, is knowing how to punctuate them.  One of my lovely readers gently pointed out to me that my method of punctuation in this (and other areas) seems to be hit or miss.

Well, <pop>  Thanks, Pete!  There goes my fantasy that if I read enough, I will intuitively and painlessly absorb all the punctuation and grammar rules I will ever need to know.

From GrammarBook 

Periods go inside parentheses only if an entire sentence is inside the parentheses. 

Please read the analysis (I enclosed it as Attachment A.).
Please read the analysis.  (I enclosed it as Attachment A.)
Please read the analysis (Attachment A).

Seriously, doesn't that first example look wrong to you too?  <Weeping.>

Then there's Purdue Owl: 
Put commas and periods within quotation marks, except when a parenthetical reference follows.
He said, "I may forget your name, but I never forget a face."
History is stained with blood spilled in the name of "civilization."
Mullen, criticizing the apparent inaction, writes, "Donahue's policy was to do nothing" (24).

And apparently, from my research, when it comes to quotation marks, as combined with commas, periods and <in a hushed voice> semi-colons, there's differences between American usage and English style.

Mother-plucker!  Can't we all just get along?

So here's the dealie.  I'm going to work really hard to mind my punctuation p's and q's. (Which, I learned in the A-Z blogging challenge, have to do with Pints and Quarts and drinking, which is what punctuation rules make me want to start doing, heavily.) I may even use a semi-colon from time to time; then again, maybe not.

But if I do screw up, please assume one of the following:
a) I'm applying the American, West West shoot-'em-up, what rules, yee-haw style!

b) I've been reading my Jane Austen again and my behaviour has been flavoured and confused;
c) I tried looking up the rules, I truly did, along with a a few pints to help wash them down easier, and after a few p's and q's, I consulted the cat and she said, "Just click Publish, you damn pussy!  And feed me already, or I will leave such 'punctuation' in my litterbox as you'll wish you'd fed me!"

Does punctuation makes your head pop, too,
or do you know and love all its little rules?