I have a question about my English Language & Usage Stack Exchange post: Punctuation rule in U.S. English

My post wasn't by any means opinion-based. How it is different from questions about "awkward" phrases?

I wrote "It causes me pain", so should I replace it with "It's awkward that..."?

After the question was edited it was reopened and closed almost immediately as a duplicate of When should end punctuation go inside quotes? However, the older question asks about the placement of the period / full stop when a sentence ends with a quote. The newer question is inspired by an online and reputable source which claims

American English places periods and commas inside double quotation marks. British English places them outside single quotation marks.

  • 1
    Personally, I think it's a duplicate of When should end punctuation go inside quotes?. If that doesn't answer your question, what type of answers are you looking for?
    – Laurel Mod
    Apr 9, 2022 at 13:22
  • I've looked up. Thank you
    – user450634
    Apr 9, 2022 at 13:27
  • Unfortunately once a user has cast their vote to reopen a question it cannot be recast a second time. So, I cannot vote to reopen your post. I do not believe your question to be a perfect duplicate of the the older one suggested. I also feel that Peter Shor's comments were very useful and enlightening but would be completely out of place in the older questions.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:21
  • For example: The actual rule most British publishers follow: if a period or comma appears after the words you are quoting, you use a comma inside the quotation mark. But if you are just quoting a few isolated words not followed by a punctuation mark, you put the comma outside the quote
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:22
  • and here: @O. Med: then that website is just wrong about the predominant usage of British publishers. Don't trust everything you find on the internet. These examples were probably made up by an American who is repeating incorrect information that they heard somewhere.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:23
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    If I see them, I will automatically vote to close any question involving punctuation as "opinion-based". There is no better description; one can hardly call it "rule-based", unless one excludes most current use. Apr 10, 2022 at 1:08
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    @JohnLawler Most punctuation questions have answers stipulated by style guides for particular publications. So they are entirely not opinion based. Any opinion is purely about which standard to follow.
    – Mitch
    Apr 10, 2022 at 15:35
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    Which is either a matter of employer's choice, or personal taste. Either way, it's arbitrary. Apr 10, 2022 at 17:26
  • The post has already been deleted by the system, which I didn't expect, (weren't duplicates protected somehow?) and its author has seemingly deleted their account too.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 10, 2022 at 17:43
  • @Mari-LouA Two possibilities: user self-deleted the question and then asked for their account to be deleted, or mods detected something fishy about the account (eg a sock of a banned account) and nuked it. I suspect the former; some new users have a “my way or the highway” attitude (which this one displayed in spades from the get-go), and when he saw he wasn’t going to get his way… he chose the highway.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 10, 2022 at 18:18
  • @DanBron I didn't get such a negative vibe from the OP, maybe I am mellowing in my advanced age :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 10, 2022 at 18:39
  • @JohnLawler, you are responding to the last sentence of Mitch's comment, while ignoring the preceding one. It is not a matter of opinion what is required by this or that style manual, which of the mainstream manuals is more widely followed in such-and-such publications, what the history of different punctuation practices is, and what their respective advantages and disadvantages are (although it may indeed be a matter of opinion how to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages).
    – jsw29
    Apr 10, 2022 at 21:49
  • @Mari-LouA In fact the two events are one and the same: the deletion of the account caused the post itself to be deleted too, since it scored -1 or less (note that this type of deletion will only happen on the main site).
    – Laurel Mod
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:20
  • @Laurel If you can publicize it, did the user request deletion?
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 11, 2022 at 21:47
  • @DanBron It was a self deletion.
    – Laurel Mod
    Apr 11, 2022 at 23:42

1 Answer 1



You seem to take an interest in American English, so let me share an AmE aphorism with you: when you find yourself at the bottom of a hole, stop digging¹.

Now, onto your Meta-question here. First, you should know that there are only a limited number of close-reasons available to users to curate the site and maintain its quality, "opinion-based" being one of them.

on closure

Now, for questions which are salvageable, the particular label applied is important, because it provides the OP some guidance on how he can improve the question such that it can be reopened for answering.

But for irredeemable questions, the label chosen doesn't matter so much as its result: the question is closed (because it's irredeemable), and will likely later be deleted, by one mechanism or another.

your question

Now, if you'd bothered to read our Help Center's guidance on what not to ask before you posted this question, you'd have seen the following, in big bold letters:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
  • your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”

Your question falls afoul of the last bullet here, and potentially the third one. Starting out with this difference in punctuation causes me mental pain certainly didn't help², but the real tell was you didn't actually ask a question.

Your concluding sentence is a call to action, which you coyly edited to add an emoticon after an experienced user pointed this out to you (which I see you've subsequently removed):

How do you let it slide? It's just wrong. Do something!

Which you then doubled-down on in the comments:

I changed "Do something!" to "Do something :)". Did it make you take it more lightly now? I hope I prevented everyone from heavy breathing. – O. Med. 3 hours ago

It is not a new idea but native speakers influence their languages more than academics and linguists. – O. Med. 3 hours ago

All of which make it clear your motivation for posting was not to learn something but to vent your exasperation and agitate for change. And, as the Help Center makes clear, those kinds of posts are central targets for closure and removal.

closing :) thoughts

So, does it matter to you which label was selected to close your question? Because I can promise you it won't be reopened.

To see how you could have asked the question in a way that would not only survive review (and beyond that, subsequently be celebrated), but more importantly allow you (and any future visitor who sees it, numbering 20k as of today) to learn something, read the potential duplicate @Laurel pointed you to in the comments.

¹ "Stop digging" here referring to the title and tone of your Meta question, which again takes the assertive rather than inquiring approach that got your Main-site question into trouble.

² No, changing it to "Isn't it awkward that...?" would not help, and if you can't see how that question is opinion based, I'm not sure I can help you understand what "subjective" is.

  • @jsw29 A few points: 1) Rarely do I see questions closed for irrelevant reasons. 2) Even more rarely do I see that combined with no commentary from regulars, which means OP does get guidance. 3) The reason selected matters even less to future visitors, as the Q is likely to be roomba’d, and won’t have answers anyway. 4) In this particular case, I think the reason selected is the most appropriate (see the help center quote in my answer, particularly the word “subjective”). Do you think another reason is more appropriate? Finally, this is all rather tangential to the thrust of my answer.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 15:20
  • @jsw29 This question would have arisen regardless of close reason, and the answer would be the same and just as lengthy. The issue with the question, and meta-question, is the attitude and approach of asserting one’s position against the community’s , rather than seeking to learn (and that’s the thrust of the answer). And again, I think POB is the most accurate choice, do you think another would have been better?
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 15:51
  • It's been edited, the rant removed (although I interpreted it as a message of heightened self-mocking incredulity) and the link to the source of the confusion has been added. Could you please explain, in the answer if possible, why you still think it should be closed despite these improvements?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 17:55
  • @Mari-LouA Because now it’s a dupe of the other Q Laurel linked to (which is also already mentioned in my answer). And I don’t buy it was “self mocking incredulity”, especially not after the commentary.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 17:56
  • The part How do you let it slide? It's just wrong. Do something :) was edited out by the OP. If it is a duplicate then it should be reopened and closed as a duplicate. The reason for its closure is now moot.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 17:59
  • The older question is where to place the period / full stop in a quotation. The OP is asking about comma usage which is closely related, sure, but not exactly the same thing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:02
  • @Mari-LouA Yes, it was, as I note in the answer already, and it took him several attempts after feedback by the community. And again, this Meta-Q demonstrates the wrong attitude, the “I’m right and you’re wrong; I’m not here to learn, I’m here to teach”. I don’t particularly care if the Q is reclosed as a dupe. Either way it’s closed and will be forgotten, collected in the dustbin of history. I think this Meta-Q&A is useful for educating OP and those who follow him on what kind of question, and what kind of approach, is fruitful on EL&U, rather than focusing on the fate of the question.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:03
  • @Mari-LouA It’s the same thing.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:03
  • @Mari-LouA: The question has been reopened.
    – Justin
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:06
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    I do appreciate your endless willingness and effort to rehabilitate questions. I know the death of questions is high on your list of worries for EL&U, and I agree. But I don’t see the purpose of trying to rescue questions which add no value to the site. We don’t just want “more questions”, we want “more questions which serve as useful additions to our library of knowledge”.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:07
  • I didn't take you for being so unyielding. Your irritation with the post is very apparent despite its current state. By editing a question with potential, instead of wagging a finger, the community helps raise standards and show newcomers how a post can be improved. Obviously, if a user keeps repeating the same "mistakes" despite the edits and the comments then even I–an Italian saint–will lose her patience.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:14
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    @Justin And now re-closed.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:14
  • closed after 9 minutes …and downvoted. What an encouraging message to all new users out there.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:16
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    @Mari-LouA How one introduces himself to a room full of strangers matters. Especially persisting in that mode after initial, relatively gentle feedback. Especially especially so then to take the matter to City Hall with the same attitude. I expect new users here to ask questions as they would in real life of other adults whom they do not know and are asking to volunteer their time and expertise. Also, you think a lot more questions have “promise” than I do. If I’d originally seen this question its current state, I’d pass it by as uninteresting.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:17
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    An interesting question is not synonymous with being "on topic". In fact many an interesting question has been closed in the past. I said the OP's question has potential. The good answer(s) it might attract would immediately elevate its status.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:25

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