Tag Archives: punctuation

Comma splice

Comma (Polygonia C-Album)

Comma (Polygonia C-Album) by Peter Broster Attribution-NonCommercial License

This week I came across a particular grammatical error several times in material I was editing for others – the comma splice. This is what its called when two sentences are joined with a comma instead of a full stop. Here is an example:

Jane skipped down the road, she was very happy.

Lots of people make this mistake, so it must be hard for them to notice. If the sentence above doesn’t feel strange to you, then it might be hard for you to notice too and you might have to check your writing carefully.

Comma splices can be fixed in a number of ways. A simple way is just to replace the comma with a full stop, but there are other ways too. Robin L. Simmons at Grammar Bytes has a nice simple guide here: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/commasplice.htm

Punctuation: combining full stops and parentheses correctly


WebDonuts-Punctuation-Cartoon by Webdonuts Funny Comics Attribution License

The other day I was writing a whole sentence which needed to be in parentheses, but I was not sure where to put the full stop. This short blog will explains really nicely how to manage parentheses and full stops when you are using them together in various situations.


Pluralize Numbers and Abbreviations Without Apostrophes

sad apostrophe

sad apostrophe by Tanya Hart Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

If you are talking about more than one road traffic accident (RTA) or patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) should you write RTA’s and PDA’s? Many people do, but they should not. Its RTAs and PDAs.

Don’t make the same mistake yourself. This excellent short post explains when not to use an apostrophe.


Using capital letters properly

Upper case

Upper case by Jeremy Keith Attribution-NonCommercial License

I see errors in capitalisation commonly in student’s writing. The two situations it seems to happen are:

  1. Capitalising  words you intend to abbreviate. Although the acronym should always be in      capital letters do not capitalise the words explaining the acronym if they are not proper nouns. For example, write diabetes mellitus (DM).
  1. Inappropriately capitalising words because they are important. Only proper nouns should be capitalised. (This site explains what is meant by a proper noun). If you are not sure if a word is a proper noun or not, check the dictionary. Most disease names are not proper nouns, except where they use an eponymous title. For example, compare hyperadrenocorticism and Cushing’s disease. Generic drug names are given in lower case but brand names begin with a capital letter. For example compare glargine and Lantus.

Here is a good website with more details on using capital letters appropriately in academic writing. http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/02/do-i-capitalize-this-word.html