Sunday, February 21, 2021

5 Capitalization Hints

A pineapple on yellow background

Capitalization is often a complex issue, and one's best friend is a good dictionary when trying to be correct. The five hints that follow are examples of frequent errors in capitalization. Learning them will make it easier to write correctly.

5 Capitalization Hints to Remember

1.  Don't capitalize seasons: summer, fall, autumn, winter, or spring

2.  Don't capitalize school subjects unless they are followed by a number or if they are a language.
        Correct:  biology, Biology II, French, history, math, Algebra I, algebra 

3.  Capitalize directions if they name a region of the country, but not when they indicate a direction of the compass. 
        Correct:  I love the food in the South.
                         Go two blocks north and then turn west and the stop sign.

4.  Do not capitalize earth, sun, or moon unless they appear in a list of other capitalized celestial bodies.
        Correct: I love the smell of the earth after a rain.
                        Today, we studied Earth, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus.

5.  Do not capitalize web, web page, or website but do capitalize World Wide Web and         Internet.
        Correct:  I am going to use the Internet today to create a new web page.
                         I cannot imagine how many websites exist on the World Wide Web.

I offer a FREE exercise to practice these five hints to anyone who subscribes to my newsletter. My newsletter will keep you informed about new lessons that I create and frequently includes FREE lessons and grammar tips and tricks. If you would like to subscribe click here.

Thanks for reading,


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Sunday, January 17, 2021

How to Reduce Wordy Sentences

Email, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, Zoom, and other forms of internet communities are the way people interact with each other.

Am I against using these new ways to communicate? Absolutely not. I use them, too, and find it quite enjoyable to interact with friends both old and new.

Am I tempted to shorten my messages and tweets with letters and numerals such as, "I want 2 C U 2 day?" Not really.

Because I am a writer and a grammar teacher, I try to condense my words into succinct phrases, clauses, and sentences that convey my exact meaning while using fewer words.

With practice, anyone can become a better writer. One of the best ways to improve one’s writing is to cut extraneous words from essays, emails, texts, or manuscripts.

It takes work to say what you mean, but anyone can do it well with practice.

Learn to:
  • repeat a word or phrase only when necessary.
  • avoid a careless or needless repetition of a thought in different words.
  • avoid clumsy, roundabout expressions.
  • eliminate needless words and choppy sentences.
  • avoid the double negative.
  • use adverbs sparingly.
  • choose the precise word to convey your meaning.
  • avoid clich├ęs.


It is quality, not quantity that counts in writing. Most good writing is not cluttered with superfluous words.

Here are three ways to improve your writing:

(1) Eliminate extra words and the unnecessary repetition of ideas. 

For example:

Wordy: The dog played with a small, little, round ball, which was made of rubber.

Better: The dog played with a little rubber ball.

(2) Reduce clauses to phrases and phrases to single words.

For example:

Wordy:  We decided that we would leave the meeting early.

Better: We decided to leave the meeting early.

Wordy: The illegal immigrants who had been captured were deported to Mexico.

Better: The captured illegal immigrants were deported to Mexico.

(3) Avoid trying to sound like Shakespeare. Write naturally. 

For example:

Wordy:  Illumination is required when the sun has sunk into the west and left the premises in darkness.

Better: Turn on the lights at dark.

What about you? Do you sometimes use more words that you really need? I know I do, so when I go back and proofread what I have written, I often find myself tapping the delete key.

Twitter is a great place for people to learn to practice reducing long, convoluted, rambling sentences into 280 characters.

Click here to download a FREE exercise to practice reducing longer sentences into shorter, concise statements.

Here are some related resources in my store that you might find useful for your students.

“It ain't whatcha write, it's the way atcha write it.”

                                                ------- Jack Kerouac

Thanks for reading,

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