Author Archives: Susan

Seven key uses of the colon

Colons, like semicolons, are a sadly neglected punctuation mark. They deserve to have their versatility recognised and used far more widely. Unlike semicolons, which have two functions (see my earlier post on ‘What do I use a semicolon for?’), colons have a number of uses. Here are the seven main uses for a colon. The

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Full stop or question mark?

It seems quite simple: we use a full stop to end a sentence and a question mark to end a question. But sometimes it can be a bit tricky working out whether we are dealing with a question or statement. One category where writers often become confused is with indirect speech. If the sentence is

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Full stops and other shortened words (measurements, acronyms and initialisms)

Measurements There is a very simple rule with abbreviations for metric measurements: you never use a full stop with them. mm, cm, m, km ml, L g, kg, kJ ha (I have to confess that I don’t know what Americans do, but, on the whole, Americans don’t use the metric system, so it probably isn’t

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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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