I feel no such sympathy for the manager of my local supermarket who must have a cellarful of apostrophes he doesn’t know what to do with.

Where would a comma come here?

We are informed that when a sentence ends with a quotation American usage always places the terminal punctuation inside the quotation marks, which is not so.

Shouldn't there be a comma after quotation?

I was reading this article online, and I'm now a bit confused.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/06/28/040628crbo_books1?currentPage=all

Also, which one does American English use: James' car or James's car?

Thanks a lot!
1 comma between supermarket and who (mostly for ease in reading)

2 no, after marks (as it is)

3 James' and James's are both used, but I believe the latter may be more popular among writers.
Hi,

Instead of getting lost and confused in a maze of so-called rules that seem completely divorced from speaking, I suggest you step back and try to consider this. A comma simply represents a place where you would naturally pause in speaking.So, look at those examples and see where you think you'd pause. Then we can talk about where most people would pause, and why they would pause.Emotion: smile

Also, which one does American English use: James' car or James's car?

The latter.

Clive
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Clive A comma simply represents a place where you would naturally pause in speaking. So, look at those examples and see where you think you'd pause. Then we can talk about where most people would pause, and why they would pause.
That's where I sometimes get it wrong, though. For example, see the sentence below. when I read that sentence aloud, I feel a slight pause between quotation and American, which apparently is incorrect. (See, I've put a comma in what I just wrote: ... read that sentence aloud, I feel a slight ...)

We are informed that when a sentence ends with a quotation American usage always places the terminal punctuation inside the quotation marks, which is not so.
Here's another example from the same article:

Sometimes, phrases such as “of course” are set off by commas; sometimes, they are not.

I don't really feel a pause after Sometime, but the New Yorker thinks that not having is erroneous.

Maybe I should learn about pausing before I leran about commas? :-(
Hi,

First, let's consider your example as follows.

I feel no such sympathy for the manager of my local supermarket who must have a cellarful of apostrophes he doesn’t know what to do with.

But let's take a simpler version.

eg Yesterday I phoned my brother, who is a salesman.

If I only have one brother, I would pause before saying he is a salesman, to keep the listener focused on the main idea, which is that I phoned my brother. In other words, my pause gives the listener time to think about what I just said.

But now assume I have one brother who is a programmer, and one brother who is a salesman. I say

eg Yesterday I phoned my brother who is a salesman.

Now, I wouldn't pause before 'who'. When the listener hears it all as one continuous utterance, he knows that the 'who' clause is a more important part of what I am saying. In other words, he realizes that it is needed to identify which brother I am talking about. In other words, he realizes I have more than one brother.

That's where I sometimes get it wrong, though. For example, see the sentence below. when I read that sentence aloud, I feel a slight pause between quotation and American, which apparently is incorrect. (See, I've put a comma in what I just wrote: ... read that sentence aloud, I feel a slight ...)

We are informed that when a sentence ends with a quotation American usage always places the terminal punctuation inside the quotation marks, which is not so.

Let's consider a simple example.

eg We know that when Mary arrives she will be hungry.

When I say this, I feel no need to pause. That's because it is so short that I can easily frame the whole idea in my mind, and I feel that the reader can, too.

Now let's consider this one.

eg We know that, when Mary arrives at the end of her long trip from the Falkland Islands by canoe with six pieces of luggage, she will be hungry.

Here, I would pause as shown, because the 'when' part is now so long that it almost seems like a separate thought. I also feel that pausing will let the listener get a much better grasp of what I am saying. If I didn't pause, I would expect the listener to say 'Huh? What? Say that again, please.'

Here's another example from the same article:

Sometimes, phrases such as “of course” are set off by commas; sometimes, they are not.

I don't really feel a pause after Sometime, but the New Yorker thinks that not having is erroneous.

I would call it optional. Pausing makes the listener think more about the word 'sometimes'. In other words, it adds emphasis.

Maybe I should learn about pausing before I leran about commas? :-(

Good idea.

Clive
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Clive:

Thanks a million for the detailed explanation. I'll try to think/pause along these lines and see how I perform.

Cheers!
Philip , thank you for your sharing, I do not know the use fo common until I read you post.

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WOW - what an interesting thread!

Well done!

One thing, however, (and it's a source of problems for nearly everyone). I’m speaking of the original James' and James’s question.

James Smith is a nice kid and he recently bought his first used car. James’s car cost him $6,500 and he takes care of it like a newborn child.

James Smith lives across the street from Mary and Franklin James and their two young daughters. They have a mini-van. The James' van cost them $26,000.

Plurals, and their unnerving apostrophes, are well covered by the New York Times and The Economist style guide. (or is it The New York Times’ and the Economist’s style guides ?)

I swear, it makes you want to tear your hair out...

Best to all,

John
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