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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Ring vs. Rang vs. Rung

Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at 4:55 am

In verb conjugation, a regular verb follows a simple, predictable pattern, such as print (present tense), printed (simple past), and printed (past particle): I print, you printed, and they have printed. An irregular verb is one that forms its simple past tense and past participle with a non-standard pattern. Ring is one such verb. Ring conjugates as …

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Internal Dialogue: Italics or Quotes?

Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at 4:47 am

NOTE: Please see our article Diving Back Into Dialogue: Part II, posted on December 3, 2019, for an expanded discussion of this topic. Internal dialogue is used by authors to indicate what a character is thinking. Direct internal dialogue refers to a character thinking the exact thoughts as written, often in the first person. (The first …

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Capitalization of Governmental Words

Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2008, at 2:18 am

When you write about or to a governmental agency, do you wonder when to capitalize? Here are some simple rules to help you. Rule: When you use the complete names of departments, capitalize. You may also capitalize a shortened form of a department. Do not capitalize when these words are used as adjectives or generically. …

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Principal vs. Principle

Posted on Monday, April 21, 2008, at 9:06 pm

If you decide to take the free Grammar Mastery Quiz, you’ll eventually come to #40, which has turned out to be confusing for many. Question 40: The department's principal/principle concern is the safety of all employees. First, let’s figure out what part of speech the word is in the sentence above. Since it describes concern, …

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Pleaded vs. Pled

Posted on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, at 2:54 am

For the past tense of to plead, you may use either pleaded or pled. Example: He pleaded not guilty before his trial. Example: He pled not guilty before his trial. Note: In the strict legal sense, one cannot plead innocent. Word of the Week Avuncular: Like an uncle, especially in kindness or tolerance. Example: He …

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Irregular Plurals

Posted on Saturday, April 5, 2008, at 12:32 am

Many nouns in English have a plural form either with an s/es ending or without. For example, when is it correct to use youth vs. youths, fish vs. fishes, or hair vs. hairs? Use youths and hairs when countable. Example: Three youths were given awards for community service. If youth is being used collectively, do …

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

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at 2:33 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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Excuses Sent by Parents to Schools

Posted on Friday, January 18, 2008, at 4:39 am

Sometimes I receive a humorous e-mail that is an excellent example of the importance of good grammar and communication. Then I have to pass it along to you. I promise to write something more serious next week but hope you smile when you read these. Apparently, these are real notes written by parents. (Spellings have …

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Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

Posted on Monday, November 26, 2007, at 3:24 pm

The three words, assure, ensure, and insure, are often confused. All three words share an element of "making an outcome sure." However, rather than using these words interchangeably, I'd like to point out the unique aspects of each word so that you can use them to communicate your intention clearly. Assure is to promise or …

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