The Comma and its Usage

The comma is one of the most common and important punctuation marks in the English language. It is also one of the most commonly misused. It is not uncommon when asking someone why he or she has used a comma incorrectly to receive answers like ‘because it just looked like it needed one,’ or ‘I haven’t used one in a while and it is a really long sentence!’ When people respond in this manner, they reveal a fundamental lack of understanding of the comma and the way that it is used. Many different situations call for the use of the comma; however, the four situations that follow are possibly the most common and their mastery will give any piece of …

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Shortened Phrases

A shortened phrase is an abbreviation of a group of words form a phrase or name that have been contracted for ease of writing. They are especially useful in essays and theses that repeat the same phrase or name many times. Understanding their correct usage can help avoid errors and confusion, and add to the polished appearance of your document. There are two types of shortened phrases: acronyms and initialisms. An acronym is a shortened phrase that usually contains the first letter of each word from a phrase. An acronym is pronounced as a word, for example: ‘SACE’ and ‘CAPA’. An initialism is similar to an acronym; however, it is not pronounced like a word—each letter is pronounced as though …

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Apostrophes, Brackets, Parentheses and Ellipses

Apostrophes ’ Apostrophes are very handy indicators to use in sentences. They are used to indicate possession. Here are some examples: ‘John’s car was a different colour from my sister’s car.’ ‘I turned the corner to be confronted by my manager’s assistant.’ ‘The politician met his mother’s expectations but failed to meet his electors’ expectations.’ If the apostrophe is not used, then Johns and sisters become plural as if you are talking about more than one John or sister (as in electors, which is plural). Using the apostrophe makes a possessive. If you need to indicate possession at the end of a word that is a plural, like electors, you simply add it to the end. Brackets and Parentheses  [  …

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Shortened Words and Symbols

The correct usage of shortened words and symbols can be confusing for some writers. This does not need to be the case: there are a few basic rules to understand that can ensure these are used correctly and consistently. Shortened words are comprised of two types: abbreviations and contractions. Not understanding the difference between these two types of shortened words can lead to common errors. An abbreviation contains the first letter of a word and one or more other letters, but not the last letter of the word. An abbreviation always has a full stop immediately after it. For example, the abbreviated form for ’Victoria’ is ‘Vic.’. If an abbreviation is used at the end of a sentence that ends …

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