This is true for American English. It is common in British English to place the punctuation outside of the quotation marks based on logical clarity.
AmE: Please explain what you mean by “traditional.”
BrE: Please explain what you mean by “traditional”.
Has this happened to you?
Using ‘And’ and ‘But’ to Start Sentences
Many people have learned in school that you should not begin sentences with a conjunction, in particular ‘and’ or ‘but.’ What is strange about this “rule” is that it is extensively considered a myth. That is, you actually can use conjunctions to start sentences. Why were we taught not to use ‘and’ or ‘but’ to start sentences when we can and sometimes should?
Photo from hellowithcheese.com
There are several sources, over hundreds of years, that have supported the use of conjunctions at the beginning of sentences. How it became “bad english” is not quite clear, but aside from not sounding as “intellectual” as the alternatives, one motivation for discouraging the use of conjunctions to start sentences may have arisen from the fact that they are commonly and unnecessarily overused. It’s been found that even many professional writers and journalists will use ‘and’ or ‘but’ when they are not necessary for clarity. (For an overview of some of the errors we see, you can check out Grammarly’s comments and reviews.)
Unfortunately, the overuse of conjunctions to start sentences may be encouraging teachers to forbid the use of them rather than teach students how conjunctions can effectively be used in this way. Here are a few pointers that might help you:
1) Use conjunctions more often. Get over your fear of starting a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but.’ You won’t always need to use a conjunction, but don’t be too afraid to add one here and there where your writing will be helped by them.
2) Delete conjunctions when they’re unnecessary. Because we use ‘and’ and ‘but’ often in speech, it can be easy to overuse them in your writing. When you’re editing, be sure that each ‘and’ or ‘but’ is enhancing your writing. Often, a sentence starting with ‘and’ does not, in fact, need the conjunction.
3) Readers love simple writing, but use synonyms from time to time. To prevent your writing from sounding choppy, it’s good to use some synonyms for ‘and’ and ‘but.’ Yes, ‘however’ sometimes seems too academic, but always using monosyllabic conjunctions will make your writing sound repetitive.
How do you use conjunctions in your writing?
I have never thought about this. It’s true that “to fight with someone” and “to fight with someone” can mean different things. The first implies having a fight or fighting against someone, while the second implies fighting with someone as a weapon. Ha!
Does this happen to you?
More tips for writing betterer!
The Coolest Word in the English Language
Recently, we ran a poll on our Facebook page in order to determine what our community thought was the coolest English word. Here were the top ten results:
While you have probably heard many of these fun words, we wanted to make sure that you know how to use them correctly. Here are the definitions of these cool words:
1) discombobulate: v., upset, confuse.
2) plethora: n., excess, superfluity.
3) juxtaposition, n., the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side; also, the state of being so placed.
4) serendipity, n., luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.
5) shenanigan, n., 1. a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose; 2. a : tricky or questionable practices or conduct—usually used in plural (shenanigans); b : high-spirited or mischievous activity—usually used in plural (shenanigans).
6) flabbergast, v., to overwhelm with shock, surprise, or wonder.
7) defenestration, n., 1. a throwing of a person or thing out of a window; 2. a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office).
8) soliloquy, n., 1. the act of talking to oneself; 2. a dramatic monologue that represents a series of unspoken reflections.
9) ubiquitous, adj., existing or being everywhere at the same time; constantly encountered, widespread.
10) oxymoron, n., a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly, something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements.
(Definitions from Merriam-Webster.)