Author Archives: Susan

Apostrophes: their other use—contractions

Apostrophes and contractions Part of the reason that people find apostrophes confusing is that we use them in two different ways: to show possession (or, as I prefer to say, close association) between two things to show where letters have been left out of word or where it has been contracted (sometimes the contracted word

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Apostrophes and place names

In Australia, it is quite simple, if ungrammatical and plain stupid. A bureaucratic body ( the Geographical Names Board) decided back in 1966 that no Australian place names should contain apostrophes.  This means we are stuck with wrong-looking (and, in my view, plain wrong) names such as Devils Marbles (thankfully, we can use the Indigenous

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The possessive apostrophe: plural words and names

Many people think about apostrophes in the same way they think about getting stuck in a patch of cactus: they’d rather not. But possessive apostrophes for plural words and names are relatively simple (certainly compared with singular personal names).  There is straightforward two-step process: Step 1:  Add an apostrophe after the end of the plural

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The possessive apostrophe: singular words, Part 2 – personal and ‘ancient’ names

Ancient and modern names The goddess Venus is an example of ancient name but is Venus Williams considered an ancient or a modern name? If you read grammar reference books, you will see that a different rule applies to what are called ‘ancient’ names and sometimes to personal names that end in s, x or

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How do I know where to put hyphens?

The simple answer (for words that are always hyphenated) is to check in a dictionary: if a word is always hyphenated, it will be listed.  If the word you are looking for isn’t there (for instance, game-plan), the odds are in favour of it in fact being two separate words (game plan). There is another

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In a dot-point list, does each item start with a capital letter and end with a full stop?

No and no. In Australia, the widespread convention is that each item in a dot-point list starts with a lower-case letter; you can think of each point as ‘finishing’ the sentence that introduces the list. You only need to finish a point with a full stop if the point contains more than one sentence, otherwise

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