Grammatically speaking, should one place two spaces or one following a mark of punctuation?
Two spaces follow a punctuation mark unless followed by quotation marks in dialogue such as (She said, "You can go." ) Then two spaces will follow the quotation marks, but in this case the two spaces follow the parentheses. When in doubt refer to a good reference guide to be grammatically correct. I often use a guide with that title (Grammatically Correct, The Writer's Essential Guide to punctuation, spelling, style, usage, and grammar by Anne Stilman).
I disagree with Diana Lee. I grew up with a rule, one space after all punctuation except the end of a sentence. After the . ! or ? at the end of a sentence, two spaces. But this rule was created for fixed-pitch (10 characters per inch or 12 characters per inch) typewriters. Printers, who used point size with variable-width letters, never used multiple spaces. The period was adjusted to the left, and spacing works best with always using one space. So once we started using typefaces like Times New Roman and Arial (as opposed to, say, Courier), the rule for two spaces should have gone away. In fact, there is one typesetting program in which it was completely impossible to put two space together. And it created great layout results.
So, working with word-processing computers since about 1985, the correct rule has been one space, always and only. I confirmed this with master historians of type from Columbia University's School of Library Service. Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, concurs: Rule 6.11: "In typeset matter, one space, not two (in other words, a regular word space), follows any makr of punctuation that ends a sentence".
As today's word processors use variable-width fonts and do automatic typesetting, this rule applies to just about everything we do today.
This rule or principle of grammar almost never fails to evoke some debate and controversy among grammar elitists and liberals. Thank you for your answer. All of you.
I should have said two spaces at the end of the sentence. Guess I was not making myself clear. Sorry!
Yes, of course it is one space within the sentence following a coma, etc.
It really depends on the style of whatever publication for which one is wrting. It is standard practice to put two spaces after a full stop, exclamation mark, or question mark, one behind other punctuation marks
Having taught English in England I can affirm that it is always a single space grammatically speaking... however outside of the classroom different publications prefer different formats so it somewhat depends on the context of the question.
They used to teach two spaces at the end of the sentence after the period, question mark, or exclamation point. Now I've seen a gradual shift towards one space after the sentence. The reason is because in print journalism, AP style tells you to use one space and that was done to optimize the text on the page. When I started out in freelance writing, I was always getting remarks from my editor about that. Now if you turn in reports for school, you won't get penalized for using one space so long as you are consistent. Styles change over time.
Strictly speaking, the one vs two debate has nothing to do with grammar, but with formatting conventions. Interestingly, web browsers will not render more than one space unless you force extra spaces with special characters. I can type 3, 4, 5, spaces between all of these words in the text editor, but when I hit "submit answer" my text will show up with single spaces throughout. (Even after sentences)
TWO. Two spaces always follow the end of a sentence. One space follows punctuation used inside a sentence (such as commas). However, if you are limited by characters (like here) it is ok to cut spaces down to fit and entire message.
I was taught one space after punctuation inside a sentence, for example, after a comma, but two spaces after punctuation at the end of a sentence, as with a period. But there's a few exceptions--there always are! Apostrophes don't get any spaces, nor do hyphens and em-dahses. You also don't put a space after the periods in M.D. or Ph.D. (but some people don't use periods for those at all, preferring to write MD and PhD). Also, you don't put a space after an opening parenthesis, but you do after a closing parenthesis.
When it comes down to it, the most important things to worry about when punctuation are these: clarity and consistency. If your writing is clear, and you consistently use the same rules of punctuation (and grammar), you will be understood. If your customer, boss, or editor wants you to put two spaces after a period, then do it. It's not that big of a deal.
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