Category: Capitalization

We the People, or…?

Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 11:00 pm

For much of the last two months, we have been analyzing why the subject pronouns I, he, she, we, they and the object pronouns me, him, her, us, them are chronically misused and confused. In this final installment, we'll deal with flawed sentences like Politicians should respect we the people and It's a happy outcome …

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A Study of Style: The U.S. Military

Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Our exploration of American English strives to venture even further than the principles that guide writing with precision and eloquence. We are also interested in the language variances beyond what we accept as common for information exchange. For example, we know that United States can be abbreviated, often as either US or U.S. One might …

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Sabotage in Broad Daylight?

Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 11:00 pm

If you like being punched in the gut, type the word literally into Google, everyone's favorite internet search engine. Here is what you'll find: 1. in a literal manner or sense; exactly. "the driver took it literally when asked to go straight across the traffic circle" 2. INFORMAL used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while …

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Christmas ‘Log Review

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Every year, for six weeks or so, I get a taste of what it's like to be a superstar. From late October to early December, I am accosted daily by an aggressive mob of stalkers who know where I live. Their urgent need for my attention seems to be their only reason for being. No, …

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Colons with Lists

Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Rule 1: Use a colon to introduce a series of items. Do not capitalize the first item after the colon (unless it's a proper noun). Examples: You may be required to bring many things: sleeping bags, pans, utensils, and warm clothing. Please pick up the following items: butter, sugar, and flour. I want an assistant who …

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Declining or Just Changing?

Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at 11:00 pm

If you think you know your English, Ammon Shea’s Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation might make you question your most cherished notions. The book has a lot to offer grammar sticklers with open minds, but it will challenge—and enrage—most traditionalists. People who care about language tend to deplore the slovenly habits of their …

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Year-End Quiz 2018

Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Another year of grammatical exploration has concluded with linguistic miles behind us. What we’ve learned and discussed with you along the way has been illuminating, and we are grateful for the thought and insight it has inspired. We hope you gathered even more sharpened tools for communicating in concise and eloquent English. A year-end review …

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In the Zone: It’s About Time

Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We’re all aware of how vital marked and measured time is to guiding and structuring our days. How then do we treat it in precise and careful writing? We offered some guidelines in our updated April 2017 article Writing Dates and Times. We’ll expand on those here by delving deeper into the most recent editions of …

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Giving Special Days Their Grammatical Due

Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at 11:00 pm

America prizes its holidays and other days of distinction. Whether for federal, state, civic, or religious observance, we have a slew of causes for commemoration. In the grammatical world, designated days have stature and so receive proper-noun treatment. At the same time, confusion can still seep in over style. For example, do we write Thanksgiving …

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Capitalization of Academic Degrees

Posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 8:28 am

Perhaps you've wondered if and when academic degrees (bachelor's, master's, etc.) should be capitalized. If you read through our Capitalization rules, you will notice that capitalization is sometimes a thorny area. We do not always have hard-and-fast rules to rely on; some areas are open to interpretation. This is evident in the area of capitalization of academic …

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Hitting the Right Notes with Salutations and Closings

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 4:28 pm

We live in an age of constant communication through multiple channels. Written correspondence can be as full of effort and care as a handwritten letter or as abridged and impulsive as a tweet or a text. We also exist in a time when the line between professional vs. personal and formal vs. informal addressing of …

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Writing Dates and Times

Posted on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 8:54 am

Rule: The following examples apply when using dates: The meeting is scheduled for June 30. The meeting is scheduled for the 30th of June. We have had tricks played on us on April 1. The 1st of April puts some people on edge. (Some prefer to write it out: The first of April) Rule: There …

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Titles of Books, Plays, Articles, etc.: Underline? Italics? Quotation Marks?

Posted on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at 11:34 am

Prior to computers, people were taught to underline titles of books and plays and to surround chapters, articles, songs, and other shorter works in quotation marks. However, here is what The Chicago Manual of Style says: When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are …

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Pop Gets It Wrong

Posted on Monday, October 3, 2016, at 8:15 pm

Misinformation spreads like bedbugs. For centuries, humans have clung to articles of faith gleaned from parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, authority figures, community leaders, and other notoriously unreliable sources. These rumors, superstitions, misinterpretations, urban legends, and baseless theories are often nothing more than quaint, harmless nonsense. Then again, try telling that to those who …

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No Question About It

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at 3:59 pm

Let’s see if you can spot what is wrong with this sentence? On closer inspection, most of you will see that the sentence should end in a period rather than a question mark. Question marks are used only with direct questions. The sentence above certainly contains a direct question: what is wrong with this sentence? …

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