1. Capitalising the name of a degree
Have you ever wondered when to capitalise the name of an academic degree? Here are two guidelines:
a.) For general usage, don’t capitalise the degree.
Example: She received her bachelor’s degree in English.
The words ‘bachelor’s degree’ aren’t capitalised. ‘English’ is capitalised, because it’s a proper noun – the name of a language.
abbreviating a degree,
writing the formal name of a degree,
or when the name of the degree is part of a person’s official title, capitalise it.
Example 1: I’m starting my BCom next year.
Example 2: Her degree in Bachelor of Arts Visual Studies was well deserved.
Example 3: Our guest speaker for the Legal-Eyes conference is Dr Bryan Vernum, PhD Procedural Law.
2. Do you use ‘shall’ or ‘will’?
Whenever I say ‘I will’ instead of ‘I shall’, I get a nervous tic, probably instilled in me by my high school English teacher. In an attempt to put my nagging grammar guilt to rest once and for all, I looked at what Oxford Dictionaries
has to say about the matter:
‘The traditional rule in standard British English is that shall is used with first person pronouns (i.e. I and we) to form the future tense, while will is used with second and third person forms (i.e. you, he, she, it, they). For example:
However, when it comes to expressing a strong determination to do something, the roles are reversed: will is used with the first person, and shall with the second and third. For example:
In practice, though, the two words are used more or less interchangeably, and this is now an acceptable part of standard British and US English.’
3. Do you use double or single quotation marks/inverted commas?
Single quotation marks look like ‘this’. Double quotation marks look like “this”. There is no rule that dictates whether you should use single or double quotation marks. However, British English tends to favour single quotation marks (‘x’), while US English tends to favour double quotation marks (“x”). There are two rules you’ll need to observe, though:
a.) Whatever you use, use it consistently throughout your writing.
b.) When you enclose a separate quotation inside your quoted speech, use the opposite style to what you’ve already used.
Alex said, ‘I believe that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”, to quote Martin Luther King.’
Magdalene said, “C.S. Lewis wrote, ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point,’ and I think he lived a life that proved this.”
If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
by Donna Radley
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Donna is a creative writer who has tinkered with words for years. She has written newsletters and online articles, translated a book, and edited a variety of documents. She also reviews books. She owned her own training business and now facilitates The Plain Language Programme for Writers Write. She is currently working on her novel, which involves drinking lots of sweet tea. You can view her profile on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.
Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to email@example.com for more information.
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