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So I know (now) that if you quote a complete sentence and this sentence is syntactically set off from the rest of your sentence with a comma etc, one has to (according to the Turabian) capitalize the start of the quotation. However, I am wondering if "complete sentence" here includes sentences shortened with an ellipsis? The sentence is still "complete" grammatically but shortened.

In general I am not quite sure what "complete sentence" means. Does it mean that the sentence is a complete sentence in the original or that it can be a part of a longer sentence in the original that, however, grammatically still is a full sentence?

A sample complete sentence shortened with an ellipsis: "As he pointed out, 'Fishes come in many colours...and can be found in many places".

  • is this a "complete sentence" shortened with an ellipsis in the Turabian
  • would I in this case not capitalize "fishes"

Reference from Turabian:

In most disciplines, you may change the initial letter of a quoted passage from capital to lowercase or from lowercase to capital without noting the change. If you weave the quotation into the syntax of your sentence, begin it with a lowercase letter. Otherwise, begin it with a capital letter if it begins with a complete sentence, with a lowercase letter if it does not.

On a related note, I have to admit that I only learned about this rule recently and before had assumed that it is fine to change capitalization of the beginning of a quote, as long as it is integrated into one's larger sentence.
Is this a great faux pas (it is in some of my published work) or forgivable?

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  • Can you give an example sentence? May 2, 2023 at 6:26
  • Are your publications in humanities, law or science? May 2, 2023 at 6:28
  • I am in the humanities.
    – IbnZubeira
    May 2, 2023 at 6:28
  • My question would be a) what is meant by "complete sentence" in the Turabian and b) what if such a complete sentence is shortened with an ellipsis but still has its beginning and end intact. Would I still say: "As he pointed out, 'Fishes come in many colours...and can be found in many places". Or would I in this case not capitalize "fishes".
    – IbnZubeira
    May 2, 2023 at 6:46

1 Answer 1

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The example you gave is a bit difficult to work with. Typically, at the end of the ellipsis, there should be a standalone 'sentence'.

With your example, one would rather go with

As he pointed out, "Fishes come in many colours...and can be found in many places"

Or, if there's a stop at the end of colours

As he pointed out, 'Fishes come in many colours....They can be found in many places".

If however, what you want to express is where fishes can be found, I'll go with

Fishes can be found in many places

See:

PS: though distinct, there are overlaps between Turabian and Chicago.

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  • Thanks so much! One further query: What if one interrupts the quotation with one's own words in the middle? For instance: "As he explains, 'Fishes come in many colours' and they 'can be found in many places.' Would one still capitalize "Fishes"?
    – IbnZubeira
    May 2, 2023 at 8:28
  • Can I ask what you mean by "The example you gave is a bit difficult to work with. Typically, at the end of the ellipse, there should be a standalone 'sentence'."? Usually an ellipsis is not always followed by a full sentence.
    – IbnZubeira
    May 2, 2023 at 12:58

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