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Are the following sentences grammatically correct?

  1. The elements of the rule of law include “no one is above the law”, “everyone is equal before the law”, “judicial independence” and “protection of human rights”.

  2. The elements of the rule of law include “no one above the law”, “everyone equal before the law”, “judicial independence” and “protection of human rights”.

If they are both grammatically correct, which is better? Thank you.

2 Answers 2

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  1. The elements of the rule of law include “no one is above the law”, “everyone is equal before the law”, “judicial independence” and “protection of human rights”.

  2. The elements of the rule of law include “no one above the law”, “everyone equal before the law”, “judicial independence” and “protection of human rights”.

In each example, as the elements in the list are quoted, they need not be independent clauses. In fact, the 3rd and 4th elements are not independent clauses.

The 2 examples are hence similar and fine except for a missing comma before the coordinating conjunction.

(Update

Following rjpond's comments on quotation signs, I amended the affected paragraph and the final one. I retain the comma placement concept used in the original examples.)

On quotation signs and comma placement, starting off with double quotes does not mean it must be the American system. In this context, the commas need not be placed within quotes.

Jeko suggested using a colon to start the list. To do that, an independent clause is needed before the colon. I suggest an additional 'these'.

For the colon option, my suggestion is as follows:

The elements of the rule of law include these: "No one is above the law", "Everyone is equal before the law", "Judicial independence", and "Protection of human rights".

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  • It's not right to assume that double quotes can only be combined with the American system. It's fairly common in BrE to use double quotes as the primary quotation marks. The majority of newspapers, magazines, and news websites in the UK use double quotes along with placement of commas and points outside of the quotation marks (except where they're part of a quote, etc). E.g. The latest "big change" in coronavirus infections across the UK is of "great concern", England's deputy chief medical officer has warned. ( bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54065793) Note the type of quotes and the comma.
    – rjpond
    Sep 7, 2020 at 19:54
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Neither sentence is grammatically correct.

The first one is much more correct, due to the 'is.'

When using commas, they must be placed inside a quote as a rule of thumb. "My throat hurts," Jean exclaimed.

Secondly, when stating the elements of a list, you should use a semi-colon.

It should look like this: The elements of the rule of law include: "No one is above the law," "Everyone is equal before the law," "Judicial independence," and "Protection of human rights."

If you are citing legislation, make sure to reference it with name, year and jurisdiction.

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  • Thank you for replying. From grammarly.com/blog/quotation-marks, it seems that sentence-ending punctuation marks like commas and periods should be placed inside the quotation marks. But what if I'm not quoting a full sentence and referring to, say, a chapter in a book? For example, My favorite chapter in the whole series is "Dementor's Kiss", because it is interesting. Is it correct to leave the comma outside the quotation marks of "Dementor's Kiss"?
    – Jamie
    Sep 7, 2020 at 14:43
  • @Jamie Most American English style guides recommend putting the comma inside the quotation marks. British English often puts the comma outside the quotation marks.
    – rjpond
    Sep 7, 2020 at 17:49

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