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Title: "Stops", Or How to Punctuate - A Practical Handbook for Writers and Students
Author: Allardyce, Paul
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book ""Stops", Or How to Punctuate - A Practical Handbook for Writers and Students" ***

Transcriber's note:

      Superscripted letters are indicated by the carat character
      followed by the letter(s) within curly brackets. Example: ^{a}


Or, How to Punctuate

A Practical Handbook for Writers and Students



                   "For a reader that pointeth ill,
                   A good sentence oft may spill."

                              --CHAUCER--_Romaunt of the Rose_

T. Fisher Unwin Ltd.
Adelphi Terrace
Eighteenth Impression



















_The Use of Punctuation._--Punctuation is a device for marking out the
arrangement of a writer's ideas. Reading is thereby made easier than
it otherwise would be.

A writer's ideas are expressed by a number of words arranged in
groups, the words in one group being more closely connected with one
another than they are with those in the next group. An example will
show this grouping in its simplest form:

He never convinces the reason, or fills the imagination,
-----------------------------     ---------------------
or touches the heart.

To understand what is written, the reader must group the words
together in the way intended by the writer; and in doing this he can
receive assistance in various ways. Partly by the inflection of the
words; partly by their arrangement; partly also by punctuation. As to
inflection, we see in Latin an adjective and a substantive standing
together, yet differing in gender, in number, or in case; and we know
that the adjective does not qualify the substantive. But English has
not the numerous inflections of Latin. More scrupulous care therefore
is needed in the arrangement of words in order to bring together in
position such as are connected in meaning. Yet this is not always
enough. Except in the very simplest sentences there are generally
several arrangements which are grammatically possible; and, though all
save one may be absurd in meaning, the reader may waver for a moment
before the absurdity strikes him. Some artificial aid is thus needed
to prevent him from thinking of any arrangement but the right one.
There is no fault, for instance, to be found with the arrangement of
the following words, yet, printed without points, they form a mere

     He had arrived already prepossessed with a strong feeling of
     the neglect which he had experienced from the Whigs his old
     friends however all of them appeared ravished to see him
     offered apologies for the mode in which they had treated him
     and caught at him as at a twig when they were drowning the
     influence of his talents they understood and were willing to
     see it thrown into the opposite scale.

Of course, with a little effort the meaning can be discovered; but if
such a little effort had to be put forth in every page of a whole
book, reading would become a serious task. By means of points, or
"stops," we are spared much of this. The groups are presented
ready-made to the eye; and the mind, bent on understanding the
thought, is not distracted by having first to discover the connection
of the words.

The reader's task is more difficult where two or more ways of grouping
the words not only are grammatically possible, but lead each to a more
or less intelligible meaning. As a rule he can find out from the
context which way the writer meant him to take. One politician writes
to another: "I ask you as the recognized leader of our party what you
think of this measure;" and nobody accuses the writer of presumption.
We might even pass over the following startling sentence without
observing the reflection which it casts on a respectable body of men:

     Hence he considered marriage with a modern political
     economist as dangerous.

But when we read that "the State may impose restrictions on the
mothers of young children employed in factories," we may well have
some doubt whether it is the mothers or the children who are employed
in factories. And it would not be easy to give an answer, if we were
asked to state the precise meaning of Gray's line:

    And all the air a solemn stillness holds.

In longer and more involved sentences the risk of ambiguity is obviously
much greater. Now by the judicious use of points ambiguous language can
occasionally be made clear. "The mothers-of-young-children employed in
factories" is no doubt a bold form, but it leaves us in no doubt as to
the meaning. So the ambiguous word "too" does not embarrass us when we
read: "This problem, too, easy as it may seem, remains unsolved." (See
other examples under Rules XIV. and XV.) Only occasionally, however,
can clearness be secured by punctuation. No pointing can help us much in
Gray's line, or could have given to Pyrrhus the true reading of "Credo
te Æacida Romanos vincere posse." And, even where it would make the
meaning clear, it is a lazy device, the over-use of which is the sure
sign of careless or unskilful composition. The true remedy for ambiguity
is not punctuation, but re-writing.

Punctuation, it is sometimes said, serves to mark the pauses that
would be made in speaking. This is so far true; for by the pause we
arrange our spoken words into proper groups, thereby enabling our
hearers readily to seize the meaning. But between the punctuation of
the pen and that of the voice there is a great difference in degree.
By the voice we can express the most delicate shades of thought, while
only in the roughest way can the comma, the semicolon, and the other
points, imitate its effects. As to how far the attempt at imitation
should be carried, every writer will have to use his own discretion;
but, whether we point freely or sparingly, we must for the reader's
sake point consistently. It should at the same time be borne in mind
that the lavish use of points often leads to confusion.

_General Rules._--Keeping in view the use of punctuation, we can now
form two general rules to guide us when we are in doubt which point we
should insert, or whether we should insert a point at all.

     (1) _The point that will keep the passage most free from
     ambiguity, or make it easiest to read, is the right point to

     (2) _If the passage be perfectly free from ambiguity and be
     not less easy to understand without any point, let no point
     be used._

_The Relativity of Points._--In order to decide in any given case what
point ought to be used, we begin by considering the nature of the
pause in itself. But we must do more. We must consider how we have
pointed the rest of the passage. The pause that should be marked by a
comma in one case, may require a semicolon in another case; the colon
may take the place that the semicolon would generally fill. This will
be best understood by means of the examples that will afterwards be
given. (See Rules XXIII., XXV.)

_Usage._--Except within somewhat narrow limits, usage does not help us
much. Different writers have different methods, and few are
consistent. To some extent there is a fair degree of uniformity; for
instance, in the placing of colons before quotations, and in the use
of inverted commas. But in many cases there can hardly be said to be
any fixed usage, and in these we can freely apply the general rules
already laid down. Much might be said for a complete disregard of
usage, for a thorough recasting of our system of punctuation. Sooner
or later something must be done to relieve the overburdened comma of
part of the work which it is expected to perform. Not only is the
comma a less effective point than it might be, but the habit of using
it for so many purposes is exercising a really mischievous effect on
English style. In the meantime, and as a step towards a better system,
there is an evident advantage in giving to the existing vague usage a
more or less precise form. Nothing more than this has been aimed at in
the present work.

In giving rules of punctuation we cannot hope to deal with all, or
with nearly all, the cases that may arise in writing. Punctuation is
intimately connected with style. As forms of thought are infinite in
number, so are the modes of expression; and punctuation, adapting
itself to these, is an instrument capable of manipulation in a
thousand ways. We can therefore set forth only some typical cases,
forming a body of examples to which a little reflection will suggest a
variety both of applications and of exceptions.

It will be noticed that we do not take the points exactly in their
order of strength. It seemed better to deal with the full stop before
passing to the punctuation of the parts of a sentence. Again, it may
be said that, strictly speaking, italics do not form part of the
subject. But they are at any rate so intimately connected with it that
to have passed them over would have been merely pedantic. Even the
sections on references to notes and on the correction of proofs may
not be considered altogether out of place. As few grammatical terms as
possible have been made use of. Some have been found necessary in
order to secure the brevity of statement proper to a little work on a
little subject.


I. A full stop is placed at the end of every sentence that is neither
exclamatory nor interrogative.

     A penal statute is virtually annulled if the penalties which
     it imposes are regularly remitted as often as they are
     incurred. The sovereign was undoubtedly competent to remit
     penalties without limit. He was, therefore, competent to
     annul virtually a penal statute. It might seem that there
     could be no serious objection to his doing formally what he
     might do virtually.

How much should be put into a sentence is rather a matter of style
than of punctuation. The tendency of modern literature is in favour of
the short sentence. In the prose of Milton and of Jeremy Taylor, the
full stop does not come to release the thought till all the
circumstances have been grouped around it, and the necessary
qualifications made. In Macaulay the circumstances and the
qualifications are set out sentence by sentence. So the steps of
reasoning in the example which we have given are stated with that
distinct pause between each of them which the reader would make if he
thought them out for himself. They might be welded together thus:

     Seeing that a penal statute is virtually annulled if the
     penalties which it imposes are regularly remitted as often
     as they are incurred, and seeing that the sovereign was
     undoubtedly competent to remit penalties without limit, it
     follows that he was competent to annul virtually a penal
     statute; and it might seem that there could be no serious
     objection to his doing formally what he might do virtually.

Both forms are correct in point of punctuation. Which is the better
form is a question of style. Take another example:

     The sides of the mountain were covered with trees; the banks
     of the brooks were diversified with flowers; every blast
     shook spices from the rocks; and every mouth dropped fruits
     upon the ground.

There is here an advantage in putting these four statements together,
instead of making four separate sentences. We can more easily combine
the details, and so form a single picture--a picture of fertility.

II. As a rule the full stop is not to be inserted till the sentence be
grammatically complete. But some parts of the sentence necessary to
make it grammatically complete may be left for the reader to supply.

     It is well said, in every sense, that a man's religion is
     the chief fact with regard to him. A man's or a nation of
     men's. By religion I do not mean here the church-creed which
     he professes, the articles of faith which he will sign and,
     in words or otherwise, assert. Not this wholly, in many
     cases not this at all.

III. When a sentence is purposely left unfinished, the dash takes the
place of the full stop. (See Rule XL.)

     "Excuse me," said I, "but I am a sort of collector." "Not
     Income-tax?" cried His Majesty, hastily removing his pipe
     from his lips.

IV. A full stop is placed after most abbreviations, after initial
letters, and after ordinal numbers in Roman characters.

     Gen. i. 20; two lbs.; A.D. 1883; 3 p.m.; &c., and etc.;
     M.D., J. S. Mill; William III., King of England; MS., LL.D.
     (not M.S. and L.L.D.).

Note that the use of the full stop in these cases does not prevent
another point from being used immediately after it. But if they occur
at the end of a sentence, another full stop is not added; or, more
correctly, it may be said that Rule IV. does not apply at the end of a

"Mr," "Messrs," "Dr"--abbreviations which retain the last letter of
the whole word--are written without a point.


V. The comma indicates a short pause in a sentence. It is used when we
wish to separate words that stand together, and at the same time to
stop as little as possible the flow of the sentence.

     When the earl reached his own province, he found that
     preparations had been made to repel him.

     Though it is difficult, or almost impossible, to reclaim a
     savage, bred from his youth to war and the chase, to the
     restraints and the duties of civilized life, nothing is more
     easy or common than to find men who have been educated in
     all the habits and comforts of improved society, willing to
     exchange them for the wild labours of the hunter and the

VI. Where there is no danger of obscurity, the subject must not be
separated from the predicate by any point.

     The eminence of your station gave you a commanding prospect
     of your duty.

VII. When the subject is long, a comma may be placed after it.

     To say that he endured without a murmur the misfortune that
     now came upon him, is to say only what his previous life
     would have led us to expect.

In every sentence the subject, whether expressed in one word or in
several words, must be grasped as a whole; and, when the subject is
long, one is often assisted in doing this by having a point to mark
its termination. The eye at once observes the separating line. Note
the corresponding pause in the reading of such sentences.

VIII. When the subject consists of several parts, _e.g._, of several
nouns, a comma is placed after the last part.

     A few daring jests, a brawl, and a fatal stab, make up the
     life of Marlowe.

     Time, money, and friends, were needed to carry on the work.

This rule will appear reasonable if we consider an apparent exception
to it. When the last noun sums up all the others, or marks the highest
point of a climax, no comma is placed after it.

     Freedom, honour, religion was at stake.

If "religion" be regarded as marking the highest point of a climax,
the predicate is read with "religion," and with it alone. When so
great a thing as religion is said to be at stake, everything else is
dropped out of sight, or is held to be included. But write the three
names as if they were of equal importance; the comma should then be

     Freedom, honour, and religion, were at stake.

But it is not necessary to use a point in such a sentence as this:
"Time and tide wait for no man." For we see without the aid of a point
that the predicate is to be read with the two nouns equally.

The principle might be applied also in cases like the following,
though few writers carry it so far:

     It was the act of a high-spirited, generous, just nation.

     It was the act of a high-spirited, generous, and just,

IX. Dependent clauses are generally separated from the rest of the
sentence in which they occur. The usual point is the comma.

     Be his motives what they may, he must soon disperse his

     This relation of your army to the crown will, if I am not
     greatly mistaken, become a serious dilemma in your politics.

Of course, this rule must be qualified by the rules for the stronger
points, especially by those for the semicolon and the colon. It is
often necessary to separate the clause from the rest of the sentence
by a strong point.

EXCEPTIONS.--(I) No point is needed if either the dependent clause or
the principal clause be short.

     He would be shocked if he were to know the truth.

But if the dependent clause be inserted parenthetically, it is marked
off by commas or the other marks of parenthesis, however short it may
be. (See Rule X.)

If the sentence last quoted were inverted, a comma would be placed
after the dependent clause.

     If he were to know the truth, he would be shocked.

In the first form of this example, "he would be shocked" is a
definite, finished statement, the necessary qualification to which
should follow with as little pause as possible. But in the inverted
form, the first part of the sentence--"if he were to know the
truth"--is not a finished statement, and the mind may pause for a
moment before going on to the consequence, knowing that the
consequence must follow.

(2) No point is needed if there be a very close grammatical connection
between the dependent clause and some word or words preceding it.

     They had so long brooded over their own distresses that they
     knew nothing of how the world was changing around them.

Note that by the word "so" the clause "that they knew nothing" is
joined very closely to the previous part of the sentence; and that the
two clauses "that they knew nothing" and "how the world was changing
around them," are even more closely joined to one another by the
preposition "of." For the same reason, where the object is a clause,
there is no point before it.

     He confessed to us that he had not thought over the matter.

A useful distinction will afterwards be drawn between the different
kinds of relative clauses. (Rule XIV.)

X. Words thrown in so as to interrupt slightly the flow of a sentence
are marked off by commas.

     He resolved, therefore, to visit the prisoner early in the

     This, I think, is the right view of the case.

     The first ideas of beauty formed by the mind are, in all
     probability, derived from colours.

The following are some of the words and phrases that come under this
rule: _therefore_, _too_, _indeed_, _however_, _moreover_, _then_,
_accordingly_, _consequently_; _in short_, _in fine_, _in truth_, _in
fact_, _to a certain extent_, _all things considered_.

This rule of high pointing should be applied very sparingly, and might
really be restricted to cases like the "I think" of the second
example. Nowadays the tendency is against the pointing of such words
as "therefore" and "indeed."

Where the words thrown in make a very distinct break in the sentence,
they should be pointed off by means of the dash or of brackets.

XI. Where two parts of a sentence have some words in common, which are
not expressed for each of them, but are given only when the words in
which they differ have been separately stated, the second part is
marked off by commas.

     His classification is different from, and more comprehensive
     than, any other which we have met.

     This foundation is a nursing-mother of lay, as distinguished
     from religious, oratorios.

These examples come within the principle of Rule X.

XII. When words are common to two or more parts of a sentence, and are
expressed only in one part, a comma is often used to show that they
are omitted in the other parts.

     London is the capital of England; Paris, of France; Berlin,
     of Germany.

     In the worst volume of elder date, the historian may find
     something to assist or direct his enquiries; the
     antiquarian, something to elucidate what requires
     illustration; the philologist, something to insert in the
     margin of his dictionary.

Though many writers constantly punctuate contracted sentences in this
way, it is well not to insert the comma when the meaning is equally
clear without it. It is unnecessary in the following sentence:

     Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

XIII. Words placed out of their natural position in the sentence are
often followed by a comma.

(1) The object is usually placed after the verb; when placed at the
beginning of the sentence, it should be separated from the subject by
a comma, unless the meaning would otherwise be perfectly clear and be
readily seized.

     The proportions of belief and of unbelief in the human mind
     in such cases, no human judgment can determine.

There is the same reason for inserting the comma in such cases as
there is for inserting it after a long subject. Moreover, there is
often need of some device to remove the ambiguities that are caused by
inversion. In English, the meaning of words is so greatly determined
by their position that, in altering the usual arrangement of a
sentence, there is risk of being misunderstood. The danger of
inserting the point in this case is that the object may be read with
the words going before, and not with its own verb. If there is a
possibility of this, the point should not be used.

Of course no point should be placed after the object in such a
sentence as the following:--"One I love, and the other I hate."

(2) An adverbial phrase, that is a phrase used as an adverb, is
usually placed after the verb; when it begins the sentence, a comma
follows it unless it is very short.

     From the ridge a little way to the east, one can easily
     trace the windings of the river.

     In order to gain his point, he did not hesitate to use

     In ordinary circumstances I should have acted differently.

No point would be used in the above sentences, if the adverbial
phrases occurred in their usual position.

     He did not hesitate to use deception in order to gain his

Nor is any point used when, as often happens in such sentences, the
verb precedes the subject.

     Not very far from the foot of the mountain lies the village
     we hope to reach.

(3) An adjective phrase, that is a phrase used as an adjective, is
usually placed immediately after the word which it qualifies; when it
appears in any other place, a comma is often usefully placed before

     A question was next put to the assembly, of supreme
     importance at such a moment.

The phrase "of supreme importance at such a moment" is to be taken
along with "question"; the comma shows that it is not to be taken
along with "assembly." There is here a further reason for the point,
inasmuch as the phrase acquires from its position almost the
importance of an independent statement. But, where the connexion
between the adjective phrase and the substantive is very close, and
where there is no risk of ambiguity, no point is to be used. "The
morning was come of a mighty day"--such a sentence needs no point.
Observe also that co-ordinate adjective phrases take a comma before
them, wherever they are placed. (See next rule.)

XIV. Adjective clauses and contracted adjective clauses are marked off
by commas, if they are used parenthetically or co-ordinately; no point
is used if they are used restrictively.[1]

     The "Religio Laici," which borrows its title from the
     "Religio Medici" of Browne, is almost the only work of
     Dryden which can be considered as a voluntary effusion.

     That sentiment of homely benevolence was worth all the
     splendid sayings that are recorded of kings.

     The advocates for this revolution, not satisfied with
     exaggerating the vices of their ancient government, strike
     at the fame of their country itself.

     The ships bound on these voyages were not advertised.

     Chapter VII., where we stopped reading, is full of interest.

     The chapter where we stopped reading is full of interest.

We must explain this distinction at some length; for, on the one hand,
it is hardly ever observed, and, on the other hand, almost every
sentence that we write furnishes an example of it.

[Footnote 1: To distinguish the different kinds of adjective clauses,
different names have been used: "co-ordinating" and "restrictive"
(Bain); "continuative" and "definitive," or "restrictive" (Mason).]

Examine the first sentence which we have quoted. It contains both a
co-ordinate clause, "Which borrows its title," &c., and a restrictive
clause, "Which can be considered as a voluntary effusion." In
distinguishing them we may begin by applying tests of almost a
mechanical nature.

(_a_) The first clause may be thrown into the form of an independent
statement; the second cannot. Thus: "The 'Religio Laici' borrows its
title from the 'Religio Medici' of Browne. It is almost the only
work," &c.; or, "The 'Religio Laici' (it borrows its title from the
'Religio Medici' of Browne) is almost the only work," &c. We cannot in
the same way destroy the close connexion of the second clause with
"the only work of Dryden."

(_b_) The first clause may be omitted and still leave a complete and
intelligent sentence; if we were to omit the second clause, the
sentence would cease to have any meaning.

These tests may be practically useful; but they are rough and by no
means infallible. Let us see the reason for the distinction.

The name "Religio Laici" of itself tells us what thing is spoken
about. It is the name of one thing, and only of one thing. The clause
that follows informs us, indeed, of a fact concerning the poem; but
the information is given purely as information, not in order to keep
us from confounding this "Religio Laici" with some other "Religio
Laici" that did not borrow its title. "Work of Dryden," however, is
the name of a class, for Dryden wrote many works. Now the whole class
is not here in question; it must be limited, narrowed, or restricted,
to one part of it, namely Dryden's voluntary effusions; and it is thus
limited, narrowed, or restricted, by the relative clause "which can be
considered as a voluntary effusion."

Take another example, where the name in both cases is that of a class,
and note the difference of meaning which results from different
pointing:--"The houses in London which are badly built, ought to be
pulled down." "The houses in London" expresses a class of objects; the
relative clause limits the name to a smaller class, the badly built
houses; and the meaning is, that houses of this smaller class ought to
be pulled down. Now insert the comma:--"The houses in London, which
are badly built, ought to be pulled down." The class is not narrowed;
and the meaning is, that all houses in London, seeing they are badly
built, ought to be pulled down.

The difference between the two kinds of relative clauses being
understood, there will be no difficulty in applying the rule where an
adjective clause is contracted. Compare the fourth example given under
the rule with the following sentence:--"People not satisfied with
their present condition, should strive to alter it." In this sentence
"not satisfied" limits the general name "people"; the advice is given
only to one section of the people: the dissatisfied as distinguished
from the satisfied people.

So a single adjective may be used co-ordinately:

     "What!" replied the Emperor, "you do not see it? It is my
     star, brilliant."

This is a case where a dash would be more expressive.

Note that the rule applies only where the adjunct immediately follows
the substantive. If the adjunct is placed elsewhere, different
considerations apply. See Rule XIII. (3).

     Neither can any man marvel at the play of puppets, that
     goeth behind the curtain and adviseth well of the motion.

XV. Words in apposition are generally marked off by commas.

     James Watt, the great improver of the steam-engine, died on
     the 25th of August, 1819.

But where the words in apposition are used in a limiting or
distinguishing sense, the principle of Rule XIV. applies, and no point
is used. Thus we should write "Burns, the poet," "Dickens, the
novelist"; but, if we wished to distinguish them from another Burns
and another Dickens, we should omit the comma.

     It is of Pliny the naturalist, not of Pliny the
     letter-writer, that we are now speaking.

Again, where the general name precedes, we should in most cases use no
point, for the special name will be restrictive: "the poet Burns,"
"the novelist Dickens."

There is, perhaps, not much authority for the consistent carrying out
of this distinction; but it seems useful and logical. Some cases, such
as "Paul the Apostle," "William the Conqueror," "Thomas the Rhymer,"
"Peter the Hermit," present no difficulty. The name and the
descriptive title are blended together, and form as distinctly one
name as does "Roderick Random."

XVI. A conjunction marks a transition to something new--enforcing,
qualifying, or explaining, what has gone before, and is therefore
generally preceded by some point. The proper point before a
conjunction is determined by many circumstances: among others, by the
more or less close connexion of the things joined, by the number of
words, and by the use of points for other purposes in the same
sentence. To deal with the different conjunctions one by one, would
involve a repetition of much that is said in other rules. For
instance, _if_, _unless_, _though_, _for_, _because_, _since_, and the
like, will be pointed in accordance with Rule IX. It will be well,
however, to lay down separate rules for the pointing of the common
conjunctions, _and_ and _or_.

1. _AND._--(a) Where "and" joins two single words, as a rule no point
is used.

     No work has been so much studied and discussed.

Compare this with the following sentence, where groups of words are

     The work has been much studied, and has been much discussed.

In the following sentence the insertion of a comma would change the

     On this shelf you will put books and pamphlets published in
     the present year.

As the sentence stands, "published in the present year" applies both
to books and to pamphlets: books published in the present year, and
pamphlets published in the present year. If there were a comma before
"and," the meaning would be: "On this shelf you will put books of any
date, and pamphlets of the present year."

(b) When "and" joins the separate words of a series of three or more
words, a comma is placed before it.

     Trees, and bridges, and houses, were swept down by the
     flooded stream.

(c) But where the different words are intended to be combined quickly,
so as to present to the mind only one picture, they would be spoken
without any pause, and in writing must not be separated by any point.

     Whirling and boiling and roaring like thunder, the stream
     came down upon them.

(d) Two of the words of the series may be more closely connected with
one another than with the other words of the series, and are,
therefore, not to be separated by any point.

In the following sentence, "all" qualifies both "tracts" and
"pamphlets," and thus joins them closely.

     My unbound books, and all my tracts and pamphlets, are to be
     tied up with pink tape.

(e) When "and" occurs only between the two last words of the series,
the comma is usually inserted before it.

     Trumpets, drums, and kettle-drums, contended in noise with
     the shouts of a numerous rabble.

Many writers omit this comma. But it seems useful in order to make the
previous rule (_d_) effective.

2. When "and" joins two phrases, a comma generally precedes it.

     The ceremony was performed in the accustomed manner, and
     with due solemnity.

If, as in the following sentence, a preposition is common to two
phrases, and is not repeated in the second, no comma is used.

     With proper care and good instruments, the work may be
     successfully carried out.

3. When "and" joins two clauses, the preceding point may be the
comma, the semicolon, or even the full stop. Which point is right in
any particular case, will depend upon considerations set out in other

The following example illustrates different cases:

     Within that charmed rock, so Torridge boatmen tell, sleeps
     now the old Norse Viking in his leaden coffin, with all his
     fairy treasure and his crown of gold; and, as the boy looks
     at the spot, he fancies, and almost hopes, that the day may
     come when he shall have to do his duty against the invader
     as boldly as the men of Devon did then. And past him, far
     below, upon the soft south-eastern breeze, the stately ships
     go sliding out to sea.

_OR._--The rules for the conjunction "and" apply with little change to
the conjunction "or"; but there are one or two special points to note.

(a) When "or" is preceded at no great distance by "either" or
"whether," the two words should be separated by no point.

     They must either yield this point or resign.

     It does not matter whether we go or stay.

But a point is inserted if the words stand farther apart, or if each
is followed by a complete clause.

     Either this road leads to the town, or we have misunderstood
     the directions.

(b) "Or," joining two alternatives, takes no point before it; but when
it joins two words that are used, not as real alternatives, but as
synonyms, a comma is inserted.

     England or France might be asked to join the alliance.

Here "or" is used as a real alternative conjecture, and therefore
without any point. In the following examples, the "or" joins
equivalent expressions:

     England, or the nation of shopkeepers, would never be asked
     to join such an alliance.

     We perceive, or are conscious of, nothing but changes, or

As a reason for the insertion of the comma in these two examples, it
may be said that the repetition of an idea already expressed does for
a moment stop the flow of the sentence. A real alternative, on the
other hand, forms an essential part of it, and is within its current.

XVII. In cases where no point would be used before a conjunction, a
comma is inserted if the conjunction be omitted.

     I pay this tribute to the memory of that noble, reverend,
     learned, excellent person.

In the following examples no point occurs; for it cannot be said that
a conjunction is omitted. To insert the conjunction would be to
express a slightly different shade of meaning:

     A grand old man.

     Three tall young soldiers.

"Old man" is virtually a single word and in fact many languages use
only a single word to express the idea.

XVIII. Where a comma would be used if the conjunction were expressed,
some stronger point may be used if it be omitted.

     Let us get an American revenue as we have got an American
     Empire. English privileges have made it all that it is;
     English privileges alone will make it all that it can be.

XIX. A comma is placed after a noun or a pronoun in the vocative case,
if a mark of exclamation be not used, or be reserved till the first
distinct pause in the sentence.

     Yet I own, my lord, that yours is not an uncommon character.

     I am, Sir, yours truly, John Smith.

     O Italy, gather thy blood into thy heart!

     O Thou, who in the heavens dost dwell!

Whether a comma or a mark of exclamation ought to be used after the
vocative case, depends entirely on the degree of emphasis with which
the words would be spoken. If, in speaking, a slight pause would be
made, the comma, not the mark of exclamation, is the proper point.

XX. If a word be repeated in order to give it intensive force, a comma
follows it each time that it occurs; but, in the case of an adjective
repeated before a noun, not after the last expression of it.

     It was work, work, work, from morning till night.

     He travelled a long, long way.

Dean Alford, in "The Queen's English," says that this mode of pointing
such expressions as "the wide wide world," "the deep deep sea," makes
them absolute nonsense. The suggestion of a pause seems to us to bring
out more effectively the intensive force of the repetition. And we
doubt whether Dean Alford himself would have omitted the comma in our
first example.


XXI. The semicolon is the point usually employed to separate parts of
a sentence between which there is a very distinct break, but which are
too intimately connected to be made separate sentences.

     The patient dates his pleasure from the day when he feels
     that his cure has begun; and, perhaps, the day of his
     perfect re-establishment does not yield him pleasure so

     The author himself is the best judge of his own performance;
     no one has so deeply meditated on the subject; no one is so
     sincerely interested in the event.

     Not one word is said, nor one suggestion made, of a general
     right to choose our own governors; to cashier them for
     misconduct; and to form a government for ourselves.

The semicolon is used in enumerations, as in the last example, in
order to keep the parts more distinctly separate.

XXII. When a sentence consists of two or more independent clauses not
joined by conjunctions, the clauses are separated by semicolons.

     To command a crime is to commit one; he who commands an
     assassination, is by every one regarded as an assassin.

     His knowledge was too multifarious to be always exact; his
     pursuits were too eager to be always cautious.

If the conjunction "and" were inserted in the last sentence, the comma
would be used instead of the semicolon. A conjunction forms a bridge
over the gap between two statements, and, where they are neither long
nor complicated, we pass from one to the other without noticing any
distinct break. But there is such a break when the conjunction is
omitted, and therefore we use a stronger point. The two parts of an
antithesis are generally separated in this way.

XXIII. A pause generally indicated by a comma may be indicated by a
semicolon when commas are used in the sentence for other purposes.
(See _Introduction: Relativity of Points_.)

     I got several things of less value, but not all less useful
     to me, which I omitted setting down before: as, in
     particular, pens, ink, and paper; several parcels in the
     captain's, mate's, gunner's, and carpenter's keeping; three
     or four compasses, some mathematical instruments, dials,
     perspectives, charts, and books of navigation.

     In this I was certainly in the wrong too, the honest,
     grateful creature having no thought but what consisted of
     the best principles, both as a religious Christian and as a
     grateful friend; as appeared afterward to my full

In the first sentence the semicolon enables us to group the objects
enumerated. Had commas been used throughout, the reader would have
been left to find out the arrangement for himself.


XXIV. The colon is used to indicate pauses more abrupt than those
indicated by the semicolon.

     God has willed it: submit in thankfulness.

     The wind raged, and the rain beat against the window: it was
     a miserable day.

     Nevertheless, you will say that there must be a difference
     between true poetry and true speech not poetical: what is
     the difference?

The first example contains two clauses that are connected in such a
way as to justify us in putting them into one sentence; that it is
God's will, is a reason for submitting. The proper point therefore
should be something less than the full stop. But there is a striking
difference between the clauses; for we pass from an affirmation to a
command. Therefore something more than the semicolon is needed. Had
the clauses been similar in construction, the pause would have been
sufficiently indicated by the semicolon: "God has willed it; man has

In the second example there is not the same change of grammatical
construction, but the change in thought is equally great; we pass from
a statement of details to a statement of the general result. The colon
is frequently used in sentences of this kind, where the phrase "in
short" is implied but is not expressed.

Many writers indicate such abrupt changes by means of the dash.

XXV. A pause generally indicated by a semicolon may be indicated by a
colon, when the semicolon is used in the sentence for pauses of a
different nature.

     The "Essay" plainly appears the fabric of a poet: what
     Bolingbroke supplied could be only the first principles; the
     order, illustration, and embellishments, must all be Pope's.

     Not that we are to think that Homer wanted judgment, because
     Virgil had it in a more eminent degree; or that Virgil
     wanted invention, because Homer possessed a larger share of
     it: each of these great authors had more of both than,
     perhaps, any man besides, and are only said to have less in
     comparison with one another.

     Homer hurries and transports us with a commanding
     impetuosity; Virgil leads us with an attractive majesty:
     Homer scatters with a generous profusion; Virgil bestows
     with a careful magnificence.

Compare these examples with those given to show how the semicolon
replaces the comma. (Rule XXIII.) Note also how the last sentence is
divided in the middle into two parts, and that each of these two parts
is itself divided into two parts. By Rule XXII. the second division is
indicated by the semicolon; and we bring out the grouping of the
sentence by using a colon for the first division.

XXVI. The colon is used before enumerations, especially where
"namely," or "viz.," is implied but is not expressed; and when so used
it is sometimes followed by the dash.

     Three nations adopted this law: England, France, and

     One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou
     hast, and give to the poor.

     Dr Johnson's chief works are the following:--"Rasselas," The
     Dictionary, "The Lives of the Poets," and "The Vanity of
     Human Wishes."

When, as in the last example, a list of things is given in a formal
way, the dash is generally added. The combination of the two points is
partly an attempt to find a point stronger than the colon and not so
strong as the full stop, partly, perhaps, an imitation of a

XXVII. The colon is generally placed before a quotation, when notice
of the quotation is given by some introductory words. In this case
also the dash is sometimes used.

     In this passage exception may fairly be taken to one short
     sentence, that in which he says: "The law ought to forbid
     it, because conscience does not permit it."

     On the last morning of his life he wrote these words:--"I
     have named none to their disadvantage. I thank God He hath
     supported me wonderfully."

The colon and the dash are used together where the quotation is
introduced by formal words such as the following:--"He spoke these
words," "he spoke as follows," "he made this speech." But, in the
first sentence quoted above, the introductory words are grammatically
incomplete without the quotation, which forms the object of the verb
"says"; the colon accordingly is the strongest point that can be used.
Sometimes the connexion between the introductory words and the
quotation may be so close, or the quotation itself may be so short, as
to make the comma sufficient.

     He kept repeating to us, "The world has sadly changed."

Short phrases quoted in the course of the sentence need not have any
point before them.

     It was a usual saying of his own, that he had "no genius for

XXVIII. The colon may be placed after such words and phrases as the
following, when used in marking a new stage in an argument:--Again,
further, to proceed, to sum up, to resume.

     To sum up: If you will conform to the conditions I have
     mentioned, I will sign the agreement.

     But to bring this sermon to its proper conclusion: If
     Astrea, or Justice, never finally took her leave of the
     world till the day that, &c.

After these words, we have a choice of the comma, the colon, and the
full stop. The comma will generally be used if the argument be
contained in a single sentence; the full stop, if the argument be of
very considerable length.


XXIX. The point of interrogation is placed after a direct question.

     Where are you going, my pretty maid?

     Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

The question may end in the middle of a sentence:

     Is he happy? you ask.

We have sometimes the choice of putting the point of interrogation in
the middle or at the end of the sentence.

     You would not consent to that, by whomsoever proposed.

     You would not consent to that?--by whomsoever proposed.

There is a slight shade of difference in meaning; in the second form,
"by whomsoever proposed" is added as an afterthought.

XXX. Indirect questions are not strictly questions at all, and
therefore should not be followed by a point of interrogation.

     He asked me whether I had seen his friend; whether I had
     spoken to him; and how I liked him.

If we restore these questions to the direct form, the point of
interrogation is inserted.

     He asked me: "Have you seen my friend? Have you spoken to
     him? How do you like him?"

XXXI. When a sentence contains more than one question, sometimes the
point of interrogation is placed after each of them, sometimes it is
placed only at the end of the sentence. It is placed after each, if
each is in reality a distinct question; it is placed only at the end,
if the separate questions so unite as to need but a single answer.

In many cases it will be a matter of individual taste to say whether
they do so unite.

     Is it better that estates should be held by those who have
     no duty than by those who have one? by those whose character
     and destination point to virtues than by those who have no
     rule and direction in the expenditure of their estates but
     their own will and appetite?

     Do you imagine that it is the Land Tax Act which raises your
     revenue, that it is the annual vote in the Committee of
     Supply which gives you your army, or that it is the Mutiny
     Bill which inspires it with bravery and discipline? No!
     surely no!

         Oh! why should Hymen ever blight
           The roses Cupid wore?
         Or why should it be ever night
           Where it was day before?
         Or why should women have a tongue,
           Or why should it be cursed,
         In being, like my Second, long,
           And louder than my First?

XXXII. Exclamations in an interrogative form take a mark of
exclamation after them, not a point of interrogation. (See Rule XXXV.)

XXXIII. A point of interrogation enclosed within brackets is sometimes
used to indicate that there is a doubt whether the statement preceding
it is true, or whether the expression preceding it is well applied,
or that some statement or expression is made or used ironically.

     While you are revelling in the delights (?) of the London
     season, I am leading a hermit life, with no companions save
     my books.


XXXIV. The mark of exclamation is placed after interjections and words
used interjectionally; that is to say, after expressions of an
exclamatory nature. The exclamation may be one of surprise or of fear,
or the utterance of a wish, a command, or a prayer.

     Quick! Begone! Out of my sight!

     Heaven preserve us!

     Would that better feelings moved them!

     O Lord, be merciful unto me, a sinner!

Interjections are not always followed immediately, and are sometimes
not allowed at all, by a mark of exclamation. No rule can be given
more precise than this: (1) That we should not insert a mark of
exclamation immediately after an interjection, unless we should make a
distinct pause after it in speaking; and (2) that no mark of
exclamation is to be used at all, unless the exclamatory nature of the
sentence is more or less strongly marked. It is useful to notice the
difference between "O" and "Oh." The former is used only before the
vocative case, and never has a mark of exclamation, or indeed any
point, placed immediately after it.

    Alas! all our hopes are blasted.
    Lo, he cometh!
      O Dido, Dido, most unhappy Dido!
      Unhappy wife, still more unhappy widow!
    Oh, do not reckon that old debt to my account to-day!

XXXV. The mark of exclamation is placed after sentences which, though
interrogatory in form, are really exclamatory.

     How could he have been so foolish!

     And shall he never see an end to this state of things! Shall
     he never have the due reward of labour! Shall unsparing
     taxation never cease to make him a miserable dejected being,
     a creature famishing in the midst of abundance, fainting,
     expiring with hunger's feeble moan, surrounded by a
     carolling creation!

This rule might be put in another way by saying that a mark of
exclamation, and not a point of interrogation, is placed after what
are called rhetorical questions, or statements made more striking by
being put in the form of questions. They are not asked for the sake of
receiving a direct answer, and are in reality exclamations. Still all
rhetorical questions are not thus punctuated; the point of
interrogation is sometimes more effective. The sentences quoted under
Rule XXXI. would lose much of their force if marks of exclamation were
used. In each case we must decide whether the sentence strikes us most
as a question or as the expression of emotion.

XXXVI. The mark of exclamation is sometimes placed after an ironical

     They did not fight, tens against thousands; they did not
     fight for wives and children, but for lands and plunder:
     therefore they are heroes!

The mark of exclamation keeps up the semblance of seriousness which is
of the essence of irony.

XXXVII. The mark of exclamation is placed after the statement of some

     He has been labouring to prove that Shakespeare's plays were
     written by Bacon!

     To him the parliamentary vote was a panacea for all human
     ills, and the ballot-box an object as sacred as the Holy
     Grail to a knight of the Round Table!

The same reason applies to its use after such sentences as after
ironical statements.

XXXVIII. The mark of exclamation may be placed after any impressive or
striking thought.

     The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land: you
     may almost hear the very beating of his wings!

It may be doubted whether the mark of exclamation is in such cases of
any great service; for the impressiveness of a sentence ought to
appear in the sentence itself, or to be given to it by the context.
There is a real danger, as the style of many people shows, in thinking
that punctuation is intended to save the trouble of careful
composition. In putting the mark after pure exclamations, usage is
more or less uniform; with regard to impressive sentences, we are left
entirely to our own discretion.

XXXIX. When a sentence contains more than one exclamation, sometimes
the mark of exclamation is placed only after the last, sometimes it is
placed after each of them, the test being whether or not they are in
reality, as well as in form, several exclamations. (Compare Rule

     Though all are thus satisfied with the dispensations of
     Nature, how few listen to her voice! how few follow her as a

     What a mighty work he has thus brought to a successful end,
     with what perseverance, what energy, with what fruitfulness
     of resource!


XL. The chief purpose of the dash is to indicate that something is
left unfinished. Accordingly, it marks a sudden, or abrupt, change in
the grammatical structure of a sentence.

     When I remember how we have worked together, and together
     borne misfortune; when I remember--but what avails it to

     And all this long story was about--what do you think?

     "We cannot hope to succeed, unless----" "But we must succeed."

Note that it is the long dash that is used at the end of a sentence.

The full stop is not added where the dash marks an unfinished
sentence. But it is common to add the point of interrogation or the
mark of exclamation.

XLI. The dash is used to mark a faltering or hesitating speech.

     Well--I don't know--that is--no, I cannot accept it.

XLII. An unexpected turn of the thought may be marked by the dash.

     He entereth smiling and--embarrassed. He holdeth out his
     hand to you to shake, and--draweth it back again. He
     casually looketh in about dinner-time--when the table is
     full. He offereth to go away, seeing you have company--but
     is induced to stay.

     French history tends naturally to memoirs and anecdotes, in
     which there is no improvement to desire but that they

XLIII. When the subject of a sentence is of such length, or of such
complexity, that its connexion with the verb might easily be lost
sight of, it is sometimes left hanging in the sentence, and its place
supplied by some short expression that sums it up. A dash follows the
subject when thus abandoned.

     Physical Science, including Chemistry, Geology, Geography,
     Astronomy; Metaphysics, Philology, Theology; Economics,
     including Taxation and Finance; Politics and General
     Literature--all occupied by turn, and almost simultaneously,
     his incessantly active mind.

The colon is sometimes used in such cases; but the dash seems
preferable, as it is the point that marks a change in the structure of
a sentence.

XLIV. The dash is sometimes used instead of brackets before and after
a parenthesis.

     This was amongst the strongest pledges for thy truth, that
     never once--no, not for a moment of weakness--didst thou
     revel in the vision of coronets and honour from man.

XLV. The dash is sometimes used instead of the colon, where the word
"namely" is implied, but is not expressed.

     The most extreme example of such theories is perhaps to be
     found in the attempt to distribute all law under the two
     great commandments--love to God, and love to one's

In this sentence, however, the colon is preferable. (See Rule XXVI.).
The dash should be used for this purpose only when it is necessary to
use the colon in the same sentence for other purposes.

XLVI. The dash is used in rhetorical repetition; for instance, where
one part of the sentence, such as the subject, is repeated at
intervals throughout the sentence, and the rest of the sentence is
kept suspended.

     Cannot you, in England--cannot you, at this time of
     day--cannot you, a House of Commons, trust to the principle
     which has raised so mighty a revenue?

XLVII. A dash following a full stop occurs between the side-heading of
a paragraph and the paragraph itself.

     _Extent and Boundaries._--England (including Wales) is
     bounded on the north by Scotland; on the west by the Irish
     Sea, St George's Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean; on the
     south by the English Channel; and on the east by the German

XLVIII. When we place after a quotation the name of the author from
whom it is taken, the full stop and the dash are used in the same way.

     "One touch of nature makes the whole word

XLIX. The dash is sometimes used in place of, or in addition to,
other points, in order to indicate a pause greater than usual.

     Now where is the revenue which is to do all these mighty
     things? Five-sixths repealed--abandoned-sunk--gone--lost for

     The highest rank;--a splendid fortune;--and a name, glorious
     till it was yours,--were sufficient to have supported you
     with meaner abilities than I think you possess.

There is seldom any reason for the use of double points. In the last
example they cannot be said to be of any real service. But the dash
may sometimes be rightly employed in addition to the full stop, in
order to mark a division of discourse midway between the sentence and
the paragraph. Even Cobbett, who abhors the dash, permits it to be
used for this purpose. The report of a conversation is often printed
in this way.


L. When a clause not strictly belonging to a sentence is thrown in, so
to speak, in passing, the clause is enclosed within brackets.

[Footnote 1: It seems better to use the term "brackets" both for the
curved and for the square brackets. "Parenthesis" can then be kept to
its proper use, as the name for the words themselves which form the
break in the sentence. We may note that in like manner the terms
"comma," "colon," "semicolon," originally signified divisions of a
sentence, not marks denoting the divisions. "Period" meant a complete
sentence; and it still retains the meaning, somewhat specialized.]

     It is said, because the priests are paid by the people (the
     pay is four shillings per family yearly), therefore they
     object to their leaving.

     In full confidence of this unalterable truth, I now (_quod
     felix faustumque sit_) lay the first stone of the Temple of

Over and above the enclosing brackets, a parenthesis causes no change
in the punctuation of the sentence that contains it; in other words,
if we were to omit the parenthesis, no change ought to be necessary in
the punctuation of the rest of the sentence. The comma is inserted
after the parenthesis in the first example, because the comma would be
needed even if there were no parenthesis.

In the second example, there would be no comma before "lay," if there
were no parenthesis; accordingly the comma is not to be inserted
merely because there is a parenthesis. A parenthesis is sufficiently
marked off by brackets.

Observe also that the comma in the first example is placed after, not
before, the parenthesis. The reason for this is that the parenthesis
belongs to the first part of the sentence, not to the second.

LI. A complete sentence occurring parenthetically in a paragraph is
sometimes placed within brackets.

     Godfrey knew all this, and felt it with the greater force
     because he had constantly suffered annoyance from witnessing
     his father's sudden fits of unrelentingness, for which his
     own habitual irresolution deprived him of all sympathy. (He
     was not critical on the faulty indulgence which preceded
     these fits; _that_ seemed to him natural enough.) Still
     there was just the chance, Godfrey thought, that his
     father's pride might see this marriage in a light that would
     induce him to hush it up, rather than turn his son out and
     make the family the talk of the country for ten miles round.

Note that the full stop should be placed inside, not outside, the

LII. Where, in quoting a passage, we throw in parenthetically
something of our own, we may use square brackets.

     Compare the following account of Lord Palmerston: "I have
     heard him [Lord Palmerston] say that he occasionally found
     that they [foreign ministers] had been deceived by the open
     manner in which he told them the truth."

     "The _Leviathan_ of Hobbes, a work now-a-days but little
     known [and not better known now than in Bentham's time], and
     detested through prejudice, and at second-hand, as a defence
     of despotism, is an attempt to base all political society
     upon a pretended contract between the people and the
     sovereign."--_Principles of Legislation._

To use the square brackets in this way is often more convenient than
to break the inverted commas and to begin them again. But in the case
of the word _sic_--where it is inserted in a quotation to point out
that the word preceding it is rightly quoted, and is not inserted by
mistake--the ordinary brackets are used.

     "The number of inhabitants were (_sic_) not more than four

Another case may be mentioned in which the square brackets are used:
where in the passage quoted some words have been lost, and are filled
in by conjecture. Prof. Stubbs quotes from one of the Anglo-Saxon

     "If ceorls have a common meadow, or other partible land to
     fence, and some have fenced their part, some have not, and
     [strange cattle come in and] eat up the common corn or
     grass, let those go who own the gap and compensate to the


LIII. When we quote without any change the words of another person,
they are enclosed within inverted commas. If they are quoted in the
indirect form, or if we quote merely the substance, and neglect the
exact words, inverted commas are not used.

     Thereupon the mob bursts in and inquires, "What are you
     doing for the people?"

     Thereupon the mob bursts in and inquires what you are doing
     for the people.

     He says: "There is no property of any description, if it be
     rightfully held, which had not its foundation in labour."

     He frequently calls them "absurd," and applies to them such
     epithets as "jargon," "fustian," and the like.

The last sentence might be written without inverted commas. By using
them we call special attention to the fact that these were the words
actually employed, and are not simply words like them.

So, in a passage quoted in the indirect form, if part be quoted
exactly, it is placed within inverted commas.

     The Duke of Portland warmly approved of the work, but justly
     remarked that the king was not "so absolute a thing of
     straw" as he was represented in it.

Words referred to simply as words are either placed within inverted
commas or put in italics.

     The word "friendship," in the sense we commonly mean by it,
     is not so much as named in the New Testament.

LIV. When a quotation is interrupted, as in the report of a
conversation, each continuous part of the quotation is enclosed within
inverted commas.

     "Pardon me, madam," answered Henry, "it was of one Silas
     Morton I spoke."

LV. When a quotation occurs in another quotation, single inverted
commas are used for the former.

     "What have you done?" said one of Balfour's brother
     officers. "My duty," said Balfour firmly. "Is it not
     written, 'Thou shalt be zealous even to slaying'?"

Some writers use the single commas in ordinary cases. For the inner
quotation they would then use the double commas.

LVI. A word that is not classical English, or is used in a sense in
which it is not classical English, is either enclosed within inverted
commas or italicized.

     Those that have "located" (_located_) previous to this
     period are left in undisputed possession, provided they have
     improved the land.

     Before long, Beckey received not only "the best" foreigners
     (as the phrase is in our noble and admirable society slang),
     but some of "the best" English people too.

Foreign words are always italicized. (Rule LXIV.)

LVII. The titles of books, of essays, and of other compositions; the
names of periodicals; and the names of ships, are either enclosed
within inverted commas or italicized.

     In these "Miscellanies" was first published the "Art of
     Sinking in Poetry," which, by such a train of consequences
     as usually passes in literary quarrels, gave in a short
     time, according to Pope's account, occasion to the

     The "Emily St Pierre" (or _Emily St Pierre_), a British
     ship, was captured on the 18th March, 1862.

     It appeared in the "London Gazette" (or _London Gazette_).

The names of periodicals and of ships are more often written in
italics than enclosed within inverted commas.

LVIII. If a quotation contains a question, the point of interrogation
stands within the inverted commas.

     In a voice which was fascination itself, the being addressed
     me, saying, "Wilt thou come with me? Wilt thou be mine?"

LIX. If an interrogative sentence ends with a quotation, the point of
interrogation stands outside the inverted commas.

     What does this honourable person mean by "a tempest that
     outrides the wind"?

Observe how in the example given under Rule LV. the point of
interrogation stands within the double inverted commas, but outside
the single inverted commas.

LX. If an interrogative sentence ends with a quotation which is itself
interrogatory, the point of interrogation is placed outside the
inverted commas.

     Hast thou never cried, "What must I do to be saved"?

The reason is, that the question to be answered is not the quoted
question, but "hast thou never cried?" No writer has been bold enough
to insert two points of interrogation.

LXI. The last three rules apply also to exclamatory sentences.

     (1) But I boldly cried out, "Woe unto this city!"

     (2) Alas, how few of them can say, "I have striven to the
     very utmost"!

     (3) How fearful was the cry: "Help, or we perish"!

LXII. Where an interrogative sentence ends with a quotation of an
exclamatory nature, or an exclamatory sentence ends with a quotation
of an interrogative nature, it seems better to place at the end both
the point of interrogation and the mark of exclamation, the one
inside, the other outside, the inverted commas.

     Do you remember who it was that wrote

         "Whatever England's fields display,
         The fairest scenes are thine, Torbay!"?

     How much better to cease asking the question, "What would he
     have done in different circumstances?"!

Where inverted commas are not used, it seems sufficient to have only
one point, which must be the one required by the whole sentence, not
by the quotation.

     Do you remember the passage where Burke alludes to the old
     warning of the Church--_Sursum corda_?


LXIII. Words to be specially emphasized may be put in italics. In
writing, the substitute for italics is underlining.

     What, it may well be asked, can the interests of the
     community be those of--I do not say _an_ individual,
     but--_the_ individual?

The voice can unmistakably indicate what are the emphatic words; but
italics, only a feeble substitute, ought not to be used unless every
other means of emphasizing fail. Many writers of authority have
strongly, and very justly, condemned the too frequent use of them.

Double underlining in letter-writing need not be here adverted to. If
the person to whom one writes a letter is likely to read it without
appreciation or care, one is entitled to adopt any means that will
ensure attention. But if double underlining is allowable only on this
ground, general rules are obviously of no use.

LXIV. Words from a foreign language which have not become classical
English words, are written in italics.

     The slightest _double entendre_ made him blush to the eyes.

     Knowledge of French is a _sine quâ non_.

When foreign words become English, they are no longer italicized.
Among such words are: rationale, aide-de-camp, quartette, naïve,
libretto. It is often a matter of discretion to say whether a word is
so far naturalized that it should be written in the ordinary way.

LXV. Names of newspapers and magazines, and names of ships, are
generally written in italics; as the _Times_, the _Fort-nightly
Review_, the _Great Eastern_.


LXVI. The hyphen is used between the component parts of some compound

     Paper-knife; book-keeping; coal-pit; water-carrier;
     printing-press; sea-water; man-of-war; now-a-days; high-art
     decoration; good-looking.

There is no rule to distinguish the compound words that take a hyphen
from those that do not. If one be in doubt about a particular word,
the best thing to do is to refer to a dictionary.

LXVII. When one syllable of a word ends with a vowel, and the next
syllable begins with the same vowel, the hyphen is placed between the
syllables to indicate that the two vowels do not form a diphthong,
that is, that they should not be pronounced together.

     Co-operative; co-ordinate; pre-eminently; re-establish;

In the same way the hyphen sometimes ensures that two consonants shall
be pronounced separately; as in "book-keeping," "shell-less,"
"cock-crow," "sword-dance."

LXVIII. As a rule, a hyphen should not be placed after a simple
prefix: "contravene," "preternatural," "hypercritical," "bilateral."

To this there are some exceptions:

(_a_) "Anti-religious," "ultra-liberal," "semi-lunar," "co-eval." In
these words the pronunciation is more clearly marked by inserting the
hyphen. Compare "antiseptic," "antinomian," "ultramontane,"

Perhaps among these exceptions should also be included such words as
"pseudo-critic," "non-ego," "non-existent." Compare "pseudonym," where
the prefix is contracted, and "nonentity." Words like "pre-eminent,"
divided for the same reason, have already been noted.

(_b_) "Re-creation," "re-mark." The hyphen distinguishes the
etymological meaning of these words as distinguished from their
derived and ordinary meaning.

(_c_) "Pre-Norman," "anti-Darwinian," "philo-Turk." If the
capital-letter be retained where a prefix is put to a proper name, the
hyphen is obviously necessary.

LXIX. When a number is written in words and not in figures, the words
making up the number, if there be more words than one, are in certain
cases separated from each other by the hyphen.

The numbers to which this rule applies are the cardinal and the
ordinal numbers from twenty-one and twenty-first to ninety-nine and
ninety-ninth inclusive. The hyphen is used also when the words are
inverted; as "four-and-thirty," "six-and-fortieth."

LXX. Fractional parts written in words are separated in the same way,
a hyphen being placed between the numerator and denominator; as
"two-thirds," "three-sixteenths."

But if the word "part" or the word "share" follows, the hyphen is not
used; as "two third parts."

LXXI. Several words may be joined by hyphens, in order to indicate
that they are to be read together.

     The I-believe-of-Eastern-derivation monosyllable "Bosh."

     Additional restrictions were advocated in the cases of
     mothers-of-young-children employed in factories.

As this last sentence stands, the hyphen is really the only means of
making it perfectly clear that those who are referred to as employed
in factories are the mothers, not the children. Hyphens are sometimes
used in cases like the following: "A never-to-be-forgotten event,"
"peace-at-any-rate principles." They are almost invariably used in
"well-to-do," "alack-a-day."

LXXII. The prefix "a" before the gerund is followed by a hyphen.

     They went a-hunting.

     I lay a-thinking.

Note that "agoing" is not divided.

LXXIII. When a word is divided at the end of a line, part of the word
being in the next line, a hyphen is placed after the part at the end
of the line.

So far as rules can be given for the division of the word, it may be

(_a_) The division must be at the end of a syllable. The syllable
according to etymological derivation, and the syllable according to
pronunciation, are not always the same. In case of conflict the
pronunciation is to be the guide.

(_b_) The part in the next line should, if possible, begin with a
consonant. An examination of a number of words will show that this is
only another way of saying that we should be guided by pronunciation.

(_c_) Double letters are divided; as "at-tract," "profes-sion,"

The following examples are given consecutively from a book taken at
random. This seems the best way of illustrating the rule:

     Con-fidently; investi-gated; some-thing; institu-tion;
     diffi-culty; at-tractions; exclu-sively; kins-man;
     self-organized; en-tangled; col-lective; intermis-sion;
     ma-terials; chan-cellor; col-lege; indus-trious; sub-ject;
     his-tory; con-dition; Low-landers; or-ganization;
     re-cognized; in-famous.

Some selected examples may be also given:

     Resem-blance; hum-ble; se-cond; trans-lator; justifi-able;
     east-ern; endea-vour.


LXXIV. The apostrophe is used to indicate that some letter or letters
of a word are left out.

     "E'er" for "ever," "can't" for "cannot," "don't" for "do
     not," "'gin" for "begin."

The apostrophe is not used when the word, though contracted in the
middle, retains its original pronunciation; as "Dr." or "Mr." But it
is used where the contraction is at the end of the word: "tho',"

LXXV. The apostrophe marks the possessive case of nouns. The following
rules determine where it is to be placed:

_Nouns in the singular number--_

(1) The letter "s" is added, and the apostrophe is placed before it.

     The king's abode. A patriot's reward.

(2) If the nominative singular of the noun ends in "s," another "s" is
not added if the repetition of hissing sounds would be displeasing to
the ear. The apostrophe is then placed at the end of the word.

     Hercules' club. Augustus' dignity.

Words of one syllable follow the first rule: "James's share." Some
words of two syllables follow the first rule, some the second: "the
princess's birthday"; "Francis' style."

This distinction is sanctioned by usage. But it may judiciously be
disregarded. In speaking we almost entirely ignore it. Why should we
trouble ourselves with it in writing?

_Nouns in the plural number--_

(1) The apostrophe is placed after the "s" of the plural.

     Boys' clothing. Our friends' troubles.

(2) If the plural do not end in "s," an "s" is added, and the
apostrophe is placed before it.

     Men's opinions. The children's pleasure.

LXXVI. The apostrophe is used before the "s" of the plural when single
letters are used as words.

     Mind your p's and q's.

     He does not dot his i's nor cross his t's.


LXXVII. When, in the middle of a quotation, a part is omitted, several
asterisks or several full stops are placed in a line to mark the

     Clarendon makes the following remark about Lord Falkland:
     "Yet two things he could never bring himself to whilst he
     continued in that office, that was to his death; for which
     he was contented to be reproached as for omissions in a most
     necessary part of his place. The one, employing of spies, or
     giving any countenance or entertainment to them. * * * The
     other, the liberty of opening letters, upon a suspicion that
     they might contain matter of a dangerous consequence." (One
     sentence omitted.)

     "The French and Spanish nations," said Louis XIV., "are so
     united that they will henceforth be only one.... My
     grandson, at the head of the Spaniards, will defend the
     French. I, at the head of the French, will defend the

     "He who in former years," wrote Horace Walpole of his
     father, "was asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow
     ... now never sleeps above an hour without waking."

If the passage omitted be of very considerable length, for instance if
it be a complete paragraph, or if a line of poetry be omitted, the
asterisks are placed in a line by themselves. There is a tendency to
confine the asterisk to such cases, and to use the full stop for
shorter ellipses. If a complete sentence be omitted, the number of
additional full stops is generally four; if a passage be omitted in
the middle of a sentence, the number is generally three.

When some of the letters of a name are omitted, their place is
supplied by a line or dash, whose length depends on the number of
letters omitted.

     The scene of our story is laid in the town of B----. There
     was one H----, who, I learned in after days, was seen
     expiating some maturer offence in the hulks.

     Blakesmoor in H----shire.


Notes are generally placed at the foot of a page; though sometimes
they are collected at the end of a chapter, or even at the end of a
book. Various devices are in use for indicating the passage in the
text to which a note refers.

(1) The six reference signs: the "asterisk" (*), the "dagger" ([dagger
character]) (also called the "obelisk"), the "double dagger" ([double
dagger character]), the "section" (§), the "parallels" (||), the
"paragraph" (¶). They are suitable only where the notes are placed at
the foot of a page, and are invariably used in the order in which we
have mentioned them.

If the number of notes in one page exceeds six, the signs are doubled.
The seventh note is marked thus: **; the eighth, [dagger
character][dagger character]; the ninth, [double dagger
character][double dagger character]; and so on. But it is better, in
cases where the notes are so numerous, to use other means of

(2) Figures: either within parentheses, as (1), (2), (3), &c.; or,
more usually, printed in the raised or "superior" form, as ¹²³,
&c. Sometimes the first note in each page is marked;¹ but it is now
common, in books divided into chapters, to mark the first note in each
chapter with ¹ and then go on with continuous numbers to the end of
the chapter.

"Superior" figures are now the most usual marks of reference in
English books.

(3) Letters; which also may either be placed within parentheses or be
printed in "superior" form: (a), (b), (c), &c., or ^{a} ^{b} ^{c}, &c.
Italic letters are sometimes used. As a rule the first note in each
page is marked (a) or ^{a}. If in one page there are more notes than
there are letters in the alphabet (which sometimes happens), we go to
(aa), (bb), (cc), &c., ^{aa} ^{bb} ^{cc}. The letter "j" is often

It is less common to make the letters continuous from page to page.

The sign, whatever it may be, is placed at the beginning of the note,
and also in the text immediately after the part to which the note
refers. The note may refer to a whole sentence, to a part of a
sentence, even to a single word; the sign is placed as the case may
be, at the end of the sentence, at the end of the part referred to, or
after the single word.




1. Where a word is to be changed from small letters to capitals, draw
three lines under it, and write _caps._ in the margin.

2. Where there is a wrong letter, draw the pen through it, and make
the right letter opposite in the margin.

3. A letter turned upside down.

4. The substitution of a comma for another point, or for a letter put
in by mistake.

5. The insertion of a hyphen.

6. To draw close together the letters of a word that stand apart.

7. To take away a superfluous letter or word, the pen is struck
through it and a round top _d_ made opposite, being the contraction of

8. Where a word has to be changed to Italic, draw a line under it, and
write _Ital._ in the margin; and where a word has to be changed from
Italic to Roman, write _Rom._ opposite.

9. When words are to be transposed, three ways of marking them are
shown; but they are not usually numbered unless more than three words
have their order changed.

10. The transposition of letters in a word.

11. To change one word for another.

12. The substitution of a period or a colon for any other point. It is
customary to encircle these two points with a line.

13. The substitution of a capital for a small letter.

14. The insertion of a word or of a letter.

15. When a paragraph commences where it is not intended, connect the
matter by a line, and write in the margin opposite _run on_.

16. Where a space or a quadrat stands up and appears, draw a line
under it, and make a strong perpendicular line in the margin.

17. When a letter of a different size from that used, or of a
different face, appears in a word, draw a line either through it or
under it, and write opposite _w.f._, for 'wrong fount.'

18. The marks for a paragraph, when its commencement has been

19. When a word or words have been struck out, and it is subsequently
decided that they shall remain, make dots under them, and write the
word _stet_ in the margin.

20. The mark for a space where it has been omitted between two words.

21. To change a word from small letters to small capitals, make two
lines under the word, and write _sm. caps._ opposite. To change a word
from small capitals to small letters, make one line under the word,
and write in the margin _lo. ca._, for 'lower case.'

22. The mark for the apostrophe; and also the marks for inverted

23. The manner of marking an omitted passage when it is too long to be
written in the side margin. When this occurs, it may be written either
at the top or the bottom of the page.

24. Marks when lines or words are not straight.

When corrected, the passage given above would read as follows--

ANTIQUITY, like every other quality that attracts the notice of
mankind, has undoubtedly votaries that _reverence_ it, not from
reason, but from prejudice. Some seem to admire indiscriminately
whatever has been long preserved, without considering that time has
sometimes co-operated with chance: all perhaps are more willing to
honour past than present excellence; and the mind contemplates genius
through the shades of age, as the eye surveys the sun through
artificial opacity. The great contention of criticism is to find the
faults of the moderns and the beauties of the ancients. While an
author is yet living, we estimate his powers by his worst
performances; and when he is dead, we rate them by his best.

To works, however, of which the excellence is not absolute and
definite, but gradual and comparative; to works, not raised upon
principles demonstrative and scientific, but appealing wholly to
observation and experience, no other test can be applied than LENGTH
of duration and continuance of esteem.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book ""Stops", Or How to Punctuate - A Practical Handbook for Writers and Students" ***

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