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grammar

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K.J. Simmill

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Hi all. I once again want to draw on your combined expertise.
One of my beta readers queried something with me and I am really not sure of the answer. I have googled a bit but can't find a specific answer.

My query related to punctuation after speech marks. I am wondering now which is correct, this isn't a line out of any work I am just using it for an example.

"How can this be?" He questioned. "This," He traced his hand across the time worn parchment. "has never happened before." He gave a sigh.

Now I was taught that after closing speech marks the next letter was always capitial, the same with opening them unless the same sentance was continued. However it has been suggested that a capitial letter doesn't follow the closing of a speech mark meaning it would read either

"How can this be?" he questioned. "This," he traced his hand across the time worn parchment. "has never happened before." he gave a sigh.

Or, as I would be inclined to do

"How can this be?" He questioned. "This," he traced his hand across the time worn parchment. "has never happened before." He gave a sigh.

It has made me quite confused. Like I say I was taught close speechmarks captial letter. I would be inclined to agree with, close speechmarks, capitial letter if end of speech finishes with a fullstop. However I dislike the suggestion that caps never follow a closed speech mark and wonderered how you all do it.

Sorry I know it is a basic question and perhaps beneath you. My knowledge of grammar is actually very good, but this one has caught me off guard as it was literally drilled into me at school, whereas other things I learnt and understood myself

Sorry to trouble you. I hope you are having a good weekend and thanks for your time.
 

Steven McC

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Don't worry, you're not the only one who has these kinds of issues! Of the three examples you gave, I would use the third too but this is no guarantee of industry standard!

Whenever I'm unsure of things like this I pick up two or three books, especially things like Oxford classics, and flick through them to see how they've handled similar situations. I find concrete examples easier to follow than abstract rules and it usually helps.
 
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K.J. Simmill

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Thanks @Steven McC that is a great idea, :) as silly as it may be I hadn't thought of it.
I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. Thanks again.
 
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tabby3

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For what it's worth, here's how I'd do it:
"How can this be?" he questioned. "This," he traced his hand across the time worn parchment, "has never happened before." He gave a sigh.

Reasoning: Always capitalize after a . wherever it is. Treat ? and ! like a , when they are inside " ".
 
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Alistair Roberts

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IMHO Tabby is perfectly correct. 'he questioned' is a continuation of a sentence. If that wasn't a question (mark), it would have been a comma, hence 'he' is started with lowercase. Also as parchment is followed by a comma, the next word (regardless of being speech) must also start with lowercase.
 

Brian Clegg

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What everyone else said, but for the specific sentence, I find the 'traced his hand' bit feels odd ending with just a comma. I'd cheat and do this: 'This.' He traced his hand across the time worn parchment. 'This has never happened before.'

I don't know if you're in the UK or the US - if in the UK, the standard for first instance of inverted commas, even in speech, is a single one. Then double if there are inverted commas within the the inverted commas. (Newspapers and magazines often don't, but book publishers always do.) In the US, it's double for the first instances, then single inside. So 'UK uses "this" type.' And "US uses 'this' type."
 
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Karen Gray

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Well, what I was told, whether right or wrong, is that you look at it as a whole sentence without the speech marks, then add them in, but it's always a capital in the first speech of a sentence regardless of whether it's in the middle of the sentence or not.

They walked down the road, 'Is this the house then?' he asked.

The same goes for internal speech.

Harry grabbed his fork, How can she possibly say that? he stabbed at the venison on his plate, what does she take me for? 'What do you take me for you old hag?'
 
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