Thursday, May 6, 2010

The English language has stumped me. Please help!

I admit: I'm one of those people. The ones who spot errors in books and pretend to be all annoyed but get this sick satisfaction with finding imperfection. The ones who get unreasonably annoyed when people use the wrong their/they're/their or its/it's or you're/your. The ones who find it way easier to edit for grammar than for content. The ones who delete blog comments b/c of one, tiny typo.

(For everyone who thinks I'm crazy, I'm not alone. Just check this post for more about white people and their grammar issues.)

But, much to my dismay, I still don't know it all. Like, for instance, I sometimes hesitate when spelling grammar. A part of me thinks it should be grammer instead. (I won't even get into how long it took for me to accept that there is no "a" in definite.) And when I'm writing and I can't remember whether to use lay or lie or sit or set, I just pick another word.

And now, when I don't know whether to italicize the punctuation directly after a word that is also italicized.

Normally when I'm stumped, I can Google the answer, but I don't even know where to start with this one. So I'm putting this to a vote. Which one of the 2 choices below do you think is right?

(a) "What were you thinking?"
(b) "What were you thinking?"

(In case it's not clear, I'm asking whether I italicize the question mark.)

Thanks, peeps!


Corinne O'Flynn said...

Hi! I just found your blog and laughed out loud reading this post. Laughed the "OMG ME TOO!" Laugh, not the "Oh, you silly girl" one. ;) Although I too find grammar errors to be a source of secret pleasure in published works, I am no expert.

I believe option A is correct.

Christina Lee said...

*spits up her coffee* I stared and stared at it and couldn't find the difference until you pointed it out.

ummm...there's bound to be a support group for this ;-)

Abby Annis said...

I'm pretty sure you just italicize the word and not the punctuation unless the whole sentence is italicized.

Also, I know this is hard to believe (I OBSESS over this stuff too) but I don't think you'll get a rejection based on something like this. ;) Perfection is a pain, isn't it?

Theresa Milstein said...

I don't think you italicize the punctuation either.

I'm just like you! Google is my savior for all things grammar and spelling related.