Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Puncuating abbreviations

I always get confused about how to puncuate a sentence that ends with an abbreviation.

For example: "We will have dinner at 8 p.m.(.)" Is there a need for a period or does the second period in p.m. act as the puncuation?

Same goes for "Do you work at the U.N.?" Is this over-puncuating?

This is a little similar to our class discussion about how to puncuate the sentence "Do you Yahoo!?"

1 comment:

Pat said...

Sections 6.121 to 6.123 of the fifteenth edition of CM explain how to handle what's called multiple punctuation.

Let me quote from the second and third sections:

6.122 No double period. When an expression that takes a period ends a sentence, no additional period follows (see 6.15). When such an expression is followed by a comma, however, both period and comma appear.

The study was funded by Mulevhill & Co.
Her wallet contained U.S., Canadian, and Bahamian currency.
Johnson et al., in
How to Survive, describe such an ordeal.

6.123 When to omit a comma or period. Neither a period (aside from an abbreviating period) nor a comma ever accompanies a question mark or an exclamation point. The latter two marks, being stronger, take precedence over the first two. If a question mark and an exclamation point are both called for, only the mark more appropriate to the context should be retained.

The section concerning this subject in the fourteenth edition reads differently:

5.136 In the following interrogative sentence incorporating a quoted exclamatory sentence, the question is conveyed by the construction, and a terminal question mark following the exclamation point and the closing quotation mark is therefore unnecessary:

Who shouted, "Up with the establishment!"

A sentence that is at once interrogative and exclamatory may be so constructed that the question is implicit; in that case, only the less obvious mark of punctuation is needed:

When will you trust me!

If neither interrogation nor exclamation is apparent from the construction of a sentence, and yet both are intended, the author may wish to end the sentence with a question mark and an exclamation point:

That is your answer?!

So long as its use is rare, such double punctuation may occasionally be effective. Consider the range of expressiveness achieved by the following changes in punctuation:

Go home.
Go home!
Go home?
Go home?!