Writers know how to use grammar and punctuation, but there are always those nagging grammar questions that make us wonder if we’re correct.
3 Nagging Grammar Questions Answered
1. When do you capitalise an academic 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 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:
I shall be late.
They will not have enough food.
I will not tolerate such behaviour.
You shall go to the ball!
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.
[Editor’s note: Please note that we use UK English at Writers Write. Some rules may differ if you use American English. Usage may also depend on the style guide you use. We suggest you read What Is A Style Guide And Why Do I Need One?]