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We all know what new means,
but what about nov-?

The importance of word elements

Language Interference
Maltese - an unusual formula

Focus on Study Skills:
Capital letters and
punctuation in English

New word of the month
LetsGt2gtha on Valentine's Day!
The vocabulary of text messaging

Top Tips for Business English
Teaching socializing skills
Basics socializing
Activities  Teacher's notes



Capital letters and punctuation
by Michael Vince and Dr June Hassall

• Capital letters
• Full stop (.)
• Comma (,)
• Semicolon (;)
• Colon (:)
• Quotation marks (' ')
• Question mark (?)
• Exclamation mark (!)
• Apostrophe (')
• In the next issue

Capital letters

Capital (or upper case) letters are used:

to begin a sentence or phrase
You've done a fantastic job.
Fresh fish!
for the names of people
Lin, Mary, Yiqun Wang
for calling people by their title
Mrs Brown, Uncle Kwame, Mum
for the personal pronoun 'I'
Can I help you?
for the titles of books, films etc
Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island
Notting Hill is a romantic comedy.
  Note: Small words like and, a, the, and prepositions do not usually have capitals, unless they are the first word of the title:
The film was based on
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
for names and abbreviations of organizations
Friends of the Earth, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
for the names of places (towns, countries etc)
Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, P.R.C. (People's Republic of China)
for nationalities and languages
Malaysian, English, Chinese
for adjectives made from proper nouns
China, Chinese; Jamaica, Jamaican
for days, months, celebrations etc
Wednesday, March, Diwali
Some words can be written with capitals or in lower case, depending on the meaning:
Sanderson was a good president. (general use)
Paul met President Brunswick. (job title)
compass points
I live in the north of Scotland. (description)
Sally works in the Far East. (place name)


Full stop (.)

Full stops are used:

at the end of a statement (information and instructions) and after a polite request
His sister's name is Adjoa.
Please come here.
in some abbreviations to show that letters at the end of a word are missing
Sat. (Saturday), pl. (plural), approx. (approximately)
  Note: In modern British English, full stops are not usually added when the abbreviation contains the last letter of the full word:
Mr (=Mister); Dr (=Doctor) (used in titles)
Rd (=Road); Ave (=Avenue) (used in addresses)
In American English, however, full stops are used in the above examples.
In British English, full stops are also omitted from many abbreviations
Full stops are not used after abbreviations of scientific units
cm, g, kg, sec


Comma (,)

Commas are used:

in writing to represent a brief pause in a long sentence
Everyone agrees that Efua is a very intelligent girl, but she is rather lazy.
in lists of two or more items
I bought some bananas, some oranges, and a pineapple.
  Note: The final comma (before 'and') can be left out.
in lists of adjectives that appear before a noun
a hot, dry, sunny day
  Note: In the above example, commas can be left out.
after linking words at the beginning of a sentence
First of all, I will tell you how it works.
before and after linking words in the middle of a sentence
Chen, on the other hand, did not agree.
when giving additional information that can be left out
John, who is usually late, turned up at 10.30.
before question tags
You're from China, aren't you?
in large numbers to separate sets of digits
6,550   17,500   387,100   2,000,000
to introduce direct speech
Bo said, 'I'll be late.'
  Note: Commas are not used after reporting verbs in reported speech:
Bo said he would be late.


Semicolon (;)

Semicolons are used:

to join together two sentences with related meanings
We need better technology; better technology costs money.
to separate long items in a list
Students are asked not to leave bicycles by the entrance; not to leave bags in the sitting room; and not to leave coats in the dining room.


Colon (:)

Colons are used:

to introduce items in a list
You will need to provide one of the following pieces of identification: a passport, a student's card, or a driving licence.
to introduce an explanation of the previous part of the sentence
Finally, we had to stop: we were tired and it was very dark.


Quotation marks ( )

Quotation marks (also called speech marks or inverted commas) can be single ( ) or double ( ).

Quotation marks are used:

around direct speech
Why are we leaving so early? Susie asked.
around words you want to emphasize or treat in a special way.
What is a blog?


Question mark (?)

Question marks are used:

after a question
What's the time?


Exclamation mark (!)

Exclamation marks are used:

to show strong emotion such as surprise, joy, or anger
You'll never guess! I passed my test!
  Note: Exclamation marks are used in informal writing, but are not considered appropriate in formal writing.
with commands that should be obeyed
Come here immediately!
with short exclamations that are called interjections
Ouch! Help! Oh dear!


Apostrophe ()

Apostrophes are used:

with 's' to show who or what someone or something belongs to or is connected with
Chen is having dinner with Lin's sister.
Did you go to yesterday's meeting?
  Note: -'s is used when referring to a single person or thing.
The boy's father (= the father of one boy) asked for an explanation.
  Note: -s' is used when referring to more than one person or thing.
The boys' father (= the father of more than one boy) asked for an explanation.
in contractions (short forms) to show that some letters are missing
The talk wasn't (= was not) any good.
(= I am) only here for a week.
That can't
(= cannot) be true.
  Note: Remember that its (= belonging to or connected with 'it') does not have an apostrophe
The dog was chasing its tail.
  Note: Remember that it's (= 'it is' or 'it has') does have an apostrophe to show the missing letters.
It's (= it is) too late now to do anything.
(= it has) been raining all day.


In the next issue

Next month in MED Magazine you can read about revision and examination skills.