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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Abbreviations

Nothing Poetic About This Verse

Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at 4:42 pm

Have you noticed how the abbreviation vs., meaning “against,” is pronounced these days? People read “Serbia vs. USA for the Gold Medal” and say “Serbia verse USA.” Yes, “verse”—one syllable—although vs. stands for versus here. That’s “verse-uss”—two syllables. When we hear this gaffe over the airwaves, are we imagining things or do the announcers sound …

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When Branding Undermines Spelling

Posted on Monday, April 4, 2016, at 6:32 pm

• Spring is in the air, which means that in America, major-league baseball is on the air. In San Francisco, two members of the hometown Giants’ broadcast team are former major-leaguers Mike Krukow (pronounced CREW-ko) and Duane Kuiper (KY-per). The team’s publicity department refers to these popular announcers as “Kruk” and “Kuip,” which we are …

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Pleonasms Are a Bit Much

Posted on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at 2:38 pm

The term pleonasm comes from pleonazein, a Greek word that means “more than enough.” When you use a pleonasm, you are repeating yourself. The jolly man was happy is a pleonasm: The man was happy says the same thing without the unnecessary addition of “jolly.” Serious writers want to make their point with a minimum …

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Rules, Policies, and Judgment Calls

Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 4:23 pm

Readers seemed to enjoy “Are Two r’s One Too Many?” our column about the pronunciation of February. But we also received a few emails like this one: “Why on earth is there an apostrophe in the title??” We understand the reader’s concern. Starting in grade school, English teachers rail against sentences like “Banana’s make good snack’s.” Students …

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What Have We Learned This Year?

Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2014, at 7:40 pm

To close out 2014, we have put together a comprehensive pop quiz based on the year’s GrammarBook.com grammar tips. The quiz comprises twenty-five sentences that may need fixing. Think you can fix them? Our answers follow the quiz. Each answer includes, for your convenience, the title and date of the article that raised the topic. …

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All About etc.

Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, at 1:53 pm

The abbreviation etc. is from the Latin et cetera, which means “and other things.” It appears at the end of a list when there is no point in giving more examples. Writers use it to say, “And so on” or “I could go on” or “You get the idea.” In American English, etc. ends in a period, even midsentence. …

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Apostrophes: Not Always Possessive

Posted on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, at 3:29 pm

Apostrophes’ chief purpose is to show possession, but these marks have other functions, too. They alert readers when, and where, one or more letters are missing from a word, such as the no that is dropped when cannot becomes can’t. Or they create separation to avoid confusion when two elements are combined for special reasons. …

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Sic for Sick Sentences

Posted on Monday, January 27, 2014, at 2:01 pm

We have noticed a dismal new trend: not capitalizing words that need it. Flouting the rules of capitalization is yet another indignity visited upon our beleaguered language by self-appointed visionaries who seem hellbent on transforming standard English, even though many of them can barely read, write, or speak it. From a recent magazine article: “ ‘i …

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Unusual Plurals of Abbreviations

Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2010, at 9:14 am

Thanks to Lawrence K., who responded to my tip on forming plurals of symbols by pointing out that the plurals of some abbreviations are formed in ways other than by adding an s. Example: pp. = pages Example: sp. = species (singular); spp. = species (plural) Example: cc., c.c., C.C., Cc, or cc = copy/copies …

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Abbreviations vs. Acronyms vs. Initialisms

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2008, at 10:06 pm

Dictionaries don’t all agree on the definitions of these words and neither do style manuals. So we will attempt to shed more light on the distinctions. Abbreviations According to Dictionary.com, an abbreviation is a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United …

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