Punctuating a question containing a quotation that itself contains a question, in MLA format

My literature teacher was explaining punctuation and its relation to quotations when writing a paper according to MLA guidelines and I thought of a question that he didn’t have an answer to. I figured this Stack would be an appropriate place to try. If I’m asking a question that ends in a short quotation, how … Read more

When to use “And” at the start of sentence?

I know that and is used to join two sentences or phrases. There are some places I’ve read that have And is used at the beginning of a sentence. What are the occasions when this is done? Answer You start a sentence with a conjunction when you want to call a clause out for special … Read more

In search of a Grammar text, of any vintage, that covers such as the below

I’ve searched websites, written to Mr. Barth and William Safire, scanned bookstore shelves, and buttonholed likely prospects in search of a grammar text that would address matters in the manner of the following, which is from John Barth’s “The End of the Road”. If such a text exists, I’d be much obliged to learn of … Read more

When is it OK to start a sentence with “But”?

Is starting a sentence with a “But” still bad? I know some Harvard graduates who are native English speakers and do this when they write. Is it acceptable now? What are some of the examples where “But” is and is not acceptable? Is there ever a situation when replacing a “But” with “However” makes the … Read more

Using the Chicago Manual of Style, do colons go inside or outside quotes?

I have the following sentence: The program identifies particular “targets” and “identifiers:” the “targets” are people who are suspected of committing a crime. Does the colon go inside the quotes or outside of them? Answer While my edition (14th) of CMOS is getting long in the tooth, I don’t believe the guidance has changed: 5.104 … Read more

Syncretism of plain primary and plain secondary in Huddleston’s verb paradigm

Rodney Huddleston argued that grammars should only allow for “inflectional distinction” between two forms of a verb when “there is at least one lexeme with a stable contrast in realisation between those two forms” (76). However, in the verb paradigm “with six forms” that he lays out, what he calls the primary plain form and … Read more

Shortest date abbreviation recommended by CMOS

What’s the shortest abbreviation for a full date (day, month, and year) recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style? I know CMOS recommends against all-numeral dates, so I’d rather not use those. (I know that it says that, when absolutely required, one should follow the ISO standard: “YYYY-MM-DD”.) I’ve seen it recommend “Mon. D, YYYY” … Read more

What stylistic or grammatical reasons prevent users and grammarians from reaching a consensus in the debate over the comma splice?

This is not a duplicate of earlier questions asking whether or why the comma splice is an error, because I am asking about the debate itself: unlike many another grammar rule that is widely accepted by all parties, why are so many people on opposite sides when it comes to the comma splice? I see … Read more

Is it undesirable to have two consecutive words end in “s”?

I read a related question on this topic, the title of which bears great similarity. But I was unable to find an answer in that question, and it seems the example given was dissimilar. Here is an example that recently came up in my life. I was writing to someone about the French philosopher Derrida, … Read more