2016/05/26

Simple Guide to Grammar and Punctuation Part 1


Simple Writing Tips to Help You Become a Better Writer

Why you need writing tips to make you a better writer

The world we live in today is run, in part, by writers.  With so many changes happening  on a daily basis, a large number of those are written up by writers of every kind.  To help organisations, companies and governments etc.

Whether you're an author or a content writer you need the right tips to get the best results.  The quality and effectiveness of your writing will, to an extent, be impacted by your writing.  It doesn't hurt to go over and refresh some of your grammar and punctuation knowledge every once in a while.



Do you want to be a more productive writer?  Do want help to write an article that people go back to time and time again?  Follow the tips below and discover better punctuation and grammar:
  1. Writing Errors: How to use the apostrophe
  2. Writing Errors: Punctuation Part I
  3. Writing Errors: Punctuation Part II
  4. How to use capital letters, brackets an inverted commas
  5. The correct time to use a full stop
Writing Errors: How to use the apostrophe

Are you making these writing mistakes? 

The apostrophe and its use is not as difficult as it sounds.  Once you understand it and study it you can't go wrong.

The apostrophe

1. Using an apostrophe in a contraction

Apostrophe's can be shown with at least one letter left out.  This is called contraction - contracting two words into one word.

Wrong

If Bob had asked me to join the spy ring, I would of said, "No way".

Right

If Bob had asked me to join the spy ring, I would've said, "No way".

Also right

If Bob had asked me to join the spy ring, I would have said, "No way".

Notice how the third example flows better and reads more like a conversation.

2. Using an apostrophe to show ownership.

To show ownership you add an apostrophe then an 's'.

The pen of my uncle
instead use 
My uncle's pen

The letters of the lovers
instead use
The lovers' letters

Bottom line is if the ownership is for one person add an apostrophe and an 's'.

3. When you shouldn't use apostrophes.

Abbreviations don't require apostrophes.

CDs, DVDs and CVs, that's why they're written in capital letters.  Adding an 's' implies that you mean lots of them.

Below are 4 sentences for you to correct.  You can read the answers after them to correct check what you've written.

1. He kept his childrens' bedroom furniture long after they left home for college.

2. Her table and chairs got wet because of the flood which hit her village during the last nights storm.

3. The girls' skateboard was broken, so she asked her brother to fix it.

4. My sister doesn't think she can make it to my party tonight.  She's got to work instead.

Answers

1. He kept his children's bedroom furniture long after they left home for college.

2. Her table and chairs got wet because of the flood which hit her village during the last night's storm.

3. The girls' skateboard was broken, so she asked her brother to fix it.

4. My sister doesn't think she can make it to my party tonight.  She's got to work instead.

Writing Errors: Punctuation Part I

Are you making these writing mistakes with punctuation?

This is a basic break down of the problems writers have with punctuation.  It's pretty basic but it should help you with its every day use.

When you should use exclamation marks

Exclamation marks are used to show someone is shouting, adding an exclamation mark shows the sound effect.

Here are some examples:

His dog was huge!
What a massive dog!

My parents' anniversary is today.
Happy anniversary, Mum and Dad!

YOU ONLY NEED TO USE ONE EXCLAMATION MARK

Full stops and ellipses

A full stop is used to end a sentence.

Examples:

wrong
If I go out early in the morning.

right
If I go out early in the morning, I could catch the first bus into town.

The first sentence was too short, the second sentence was complete and deserved a full stop.

Using ellipsis

While full stops end a sentence, ellipsis are used to show something is to be continued or trailing off.

Having only 3 dots (...) ellipsis is used just before a full stop.

Quick note:

NEVER USE AN ELLIPSIS INSTEAD OF A FULL STOP

Using brackets

Brackets can be used in a variety of different ways:

Use brackets to include questions or qualifications within a text.

I had a great time during my visit to America last year.  I had the most fun at a rodeo I saw om Texas last year (or was it Alabama?)

Use brackets around numbers, if you need to write a list.

Use brackets as an interruption within a sentence.

Writing Errors: Punctuation Part II

Are you making these writing mistakes? 

In this article we'll look at the use of the hyphen, semi-colon and colon.  All of the points covered in this article are for those people that may be unsure are may be just want a quick refresher of the use of grammar and punctuation.

When should you use the colon?

Below are two examples of when you should use a colon:

1. Introducing a list, use colon.

Examples

I have very little time to learn the language:  my new job starts in six weeks.

All three of their children are involved in the arts: Richard is a sculptor, Diane is a pianist, and Julie is a theatre director.

2. Breaking up a long sentence, use a colon.

If more than one sentence follows a colon capitalise the first word following the colon.

Example

He made three points: First, the company was losing over a million dollars each month.  Second, the stock price was lower than it had ever been.  Third, no banks were willing to loan the company any more money.

When to use a semi-colon

Below are two instances using a semi-colon:

1. Semi-colons can be used to separate lists where more information is given about a particular item.

Example

Some people write with a word processor; others write with a pen or pencil.

2. Semi colons can be used to join two sentences which are connected.

Example

The ants on the picnic scene were noticeably slow; they had started to eat the cheese.

When should you use a hyphen?

Sometimes mistakenly used as a dash, the hyphen is used when you want to shorten the pause between words, a dash on the other hand lengthens the pause.

1. Make a meaning clearer with a hyphen.

Example

Yesterday we had a two-hour long tutorial.

2. Use a hyphen to link words together to make a compound adjective.

Example

State-of-the-art design

3. Change the meaning of a word with a hyphen.

Example

I asked to re-take the driving test because the instructor's wig made be lose my concentration.

4. Break up a word at the end of a live with a hyphen

Remember the small rule of not breaking up one syllable words (like pawn, step etc) peoples names, words that are already compound words and other proper nouns.  Also never divide a word leaving only one or two letters on one line e.g. 'res-pect', not 're-spect'.

Here are three sentences to correct in your own time.  See the answers below and check how you did.

1. I asked my tutor to remark the test because I was not happy with the 'D' she gave me.

2. His sister in law, a well known blogger, made her fortune writing about personal accounting on the web.

3. In this lesson we discussed the following. Colons, semi-colons; and hyphens.

Answers

1. I asked my tutor to re-mark the test because I was not happy with the 'D' she gave me.

2. His sister-in-law, a well-known blogger, made her fortune writing about personal accounting on the web.

3. In this lesson we discussed the following: Colons, semi-colons and hyphens.

How to use inverted commas, capital letters and brackets

This is a quick reminder about the use of brackets, capital letters and inverted commas.

1. Using quotation marks or inverted commas.

Mostly used to enclose direct speech or a quotation mark.

Examples

My boss said to me "You were paid last week."

"Are you going to finish that?"  Shrek asked Fiona.

2. Using inverted commas to enclose quotations.

Example

I was terrified the first time I read Stephen King's 'The Stand'.

Using brackets

1. Brackets are used to enclose a statement inserted into a sentence.

Example

My friend persisted for months (even though I expressed no interest) about joining a dance class.

2. Brackets are useful for enclosing numbers.

Example

A knowledge of SEO

(1) Content writing is king as far as SEO is tightly in place.

(2) Excellent material will go unread unless people know its there.

Using capital letters

1. Start a sentence with a capital letter.

2. Start a proper noun (Johnson, England, Jupiter) with a capital letter.

3. A capital letter should always be used to start days of the week and months of the year.

When should you use commas?

The use of the comma in sentences is not always clear, I probably use the comma too much at times.  It's useful to point out that too many commas can slow down an article or story and may even put your reader off.

1. Before your quotation marks for direct speech a comma should be used.

Example

Daniella said, "I really like that jumper.  Does it come in pink?"

2. When you're writing a list use a comma.

Example

I've almost packed my suitcase for my holiday, but I still need to put in some shirts, a hat, sun cream, sandals and my toiletry bag.

3. Separate two or more adjectives which refer to a particular noun with a comma.

Example

Her curries tend to be tasteless, cold, thick and chewy.

4. When you put a phrase into a sentence to give more explanation, use a comma.

Example

When he broke my black stilettos, which were brand new, I became very upset.

The correct time to use a full stop

One of the easiest punctuation marks to use, and is used at the end of a sentence/thought and also commands the longest pause.

1. Use a full stop at the end of a sentence.

A full stop ends a sentence as everyone knows.  A capital letter is then used to start a new sentence.

2. Use a full stop after an abbreviation.

Using a full stop after an abbreviation, a capital letter doesn't need to start the next word unless it's a proper noun, which will naturally require a capital letter.

Read more About Writing: Simple Guide to Grammar and Punctuation Part 2

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