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Grammar Update

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Word TipsOther TipsDateCommaSemicolon – Use a semicolonQuotation marks – Use quotation marksCapitalizationNumbersGrammar UpdateChanges in the rules of grammar that have taken place in the last two years. 1. Contractions are acceptable in everyday business writing.2. It is acceptable to begin sentences with “and,” “but,” and “so.”3. It is no longer considered incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition.4. Terms like 24/7 are acceptable in business writing.5. All e-mail documents are considered property of the organization.6. E-mail must be carefully proofread! All guidelines and rules apply to e-mail.7. Following a colon or period, there is only ONE space (unless using a manual typewriter).8. Acceptable greetings: Ladies and Gentlemen, To Whom it May Concern, and Dear Sir or Madam (a colon and comma are interchangeable in greetings).9. In business writing, Ms. is always used unless the individual has requested Mrs. 10. Before the word “historical” it is OK to use “a” – but “an” is still correct.11. It is no longer necessary to capitalize the seasons of the year.12. When referring to a Web site at the end of a sentence, it is OK to leave out the period at the end of the Web address.13. When using an acronym in place of a title or name of an organization, use the full title for the first occurrence followed by the acronym in parentheses, and use the acronym only for all following occurrences. Word TipsAffect/effect: affect is to influence or change (alter); effect is the end result.Among/between: among is used for more than two; between is used in connection with two.Continual/continuous: continual is an action that occurs with pauses and intermissions; continuous is anaction that occurs without pauses.Disinterested/uninterested: disinterested shows no preferences or prejudice – dis = impartial; uninterested indicates boredom or lack of interest – un = not. Eager/anxious: eager is fervent or enthusiastic; anxious is full of anxiety or worry caused by apprehension.Farther/further: farther refers to physical distance; further refers to degree or extent.Imply/infer: imply is to throw out a hint or suggestion; infer is to take in a hint or suggestion.Lay/lie: lay is to put or place an object; lie refers to a person and means to rest or recline.Less/fewer: less is used for quantities that cannot be counted; fewer is used for individual units, numbers, etc. that can be counted.More than/over: either may be used—more than is preferable in formal writing.Stationary/stationery: Stationary is still or fixed; stationery is letter paper.Which/that: which is for non-essential elements (set off by commas or parentheses); that is for essential information—no commas or parentheses are used.Thru: used only by people in the department of transportation.Other TipsPassive voice – documents written in the passive voice will take the reader 67% longer to comprehend.AM-PM – Lower case “am” and “pm” are preferred (you may eliminate the periods and space after time – 6am – you may also eliminate the “m”).Date- Always write out the date (6/28/02 – wrong).- Never abbreviate the day of the week or the name of the month.- Do not abbreviate the date (December 9th – wrong).Comma- Use a comma to set off an introductory phrase except when the introductory phrase indicates where, how often, when, or why.- Use a comma between two complete thoughts in a sentence when they are separated by but, or, yet, so, for, and, or nor.Semicolon – Use a semicolon- when coordinating conjunctions (but, or, yet, so, for, and, or nor) are omitted between two complete thoughts in a sentence.- when two complete thoughts are linked by a transitional expression such as however, therefore, accordingly, consequently, and moreover (place a semicolon in front and a comma behind).- to separate a series of phrases that already contain commas.Colon – Use a colon- after a salutation in a business letter.- to introduce a list with an expression such as for example, namely, that is, or following. (A complete sentence must precede the colon.)- to separate the title from the subtitle of a book; to represent the word “to” in a ratio.- to separate hours and minutes in expressions of time.Apostrophe – Use an apostrophe- to show possession – if the word does not end in “s” add apostrophe + “s” – if the word does end in “s” add the apostrophe only – there are no exceptions to this rule.- in contractions to show omission of letters and numbers (the apostrophe always points to the missing letter) .- to form a plural where the omission of the apostrophe would cause confusion (as in p’s and q’s).Quotation marks – Use quotation marks- to indicate the exact words of a speaker.- to indicate words or phrases introduced by expressions such as labeled, marked, signed, and entitled.- to set off words for which you are creating a label. - Periods and commas go inside quotation marks. Colons and semicolons go outside quotation marks; question marks and exclamation points can go either place depending on usage.- Never change text that is within quotation marks even if it is incorrect.- When using ellipses (period + space, period + space, period + space) at the beginning of a quotation to indicate missing text, the first word in the quotation is not capitalized.Dash – The dash creates a stop for the reader to notice essential information. Use the dash (em dash— type hyphen key twice—no spaces)- to show emphasis.- to indicate abrupt change.- instead of parentheses or commas to set off explanatory material. Parentheses – Parentheses are the opposite of the dash (indicates nonessential information and draws attention away from it). Use parentheses- to set off and de-emphasize nonessential explanatory material. Capitalization- Titles of honor and respect: capitalize all official titles of honor and respect when they precede personal names.- Job title – capitalize when it appears before a person’s name; do not capitalize when it appears without a person’s name. Do not capitalize such titles when the person’s name that follows it is set off by commas and do not capitalize position titles when they follow a personal name or are used in place of a personal name (exceptions – dignitaries and high-ranking officials).- Titles: capitalize the first, last, and all principal words of titles of books, plays, and television programs.- Government – capitalize both


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