Grammar Tip – Quotation Marks: ‘Single’ or “Double”?

Roger’s question: “When do you use double quotation marks as opposed to single ones?” BizWritingTip response: Quotation marks have three main functions: 1) to indicate exact words 2) to set off words for special effect 3) to show parts of a complete published work Normally, you would use double quotation marks in all three cases. However, […]

Grammar Tip – That Versus Who

Ron’s question: “I often hear (or read) ‘that’ used in place of the pronoun ‘who.’ To my ears, it doesn’t sound correct. For example, ‘I’m always shocked by professionals that use improper grammar,’ versus ‘I’m always shocked by professionals who use improper grammar.’ ” BizWritingTip response: I agree with you. I was taught years ago […]

Grammar Tip – Subject and Verb Agreement

Debbie’s question: “Should ‘is’ or ‘are’ be used when an inserted phrase changes the subject from singular to plural? For example, if I wrote ‘the version accessed (and features exposed)’ would the verb be ‘is’ or ‘are’?” BizWritingTip response: This question relates to subject and verb agreement. In the example, the subject “version” is singular. Therefore, […]

Grammar Tip – Periods With Abbreviations

Mary Lou’s question: “Why is it that MD does not have a period after the M. and D. as this is a title?” BizWritingTip response: The rule for abbreviations is that if they are composed of all capital letters, you do not use periods with them. Examples MD YMCA MP SOPs (standard operating procedures) Exception: Abbreviations that […]

Grammar Tip – A or An With Abbreviations

Elfriede’s question: “When you are using abbreviations, how do you know whether to put ‘a’ or ‘an’ in front of them, e.g., ‘a MBA’ or ‘an MBA’? Please help. I’m in health care and we use abbreviations ad nauseam.” BizWritingTip response: When it comes to using indefinite articles (a or an), it doesn’t matter whether you are spelling […]

Grammar Tip – Quotation Marks

Gord’s question: “I am mostly on board with writing things American style. But the American practice of including the punctuation inside quotation marks drives me up the wall. What do you think?” BizWritingTip response: You will most likely hate me for this information; however, the rules for quotation marks in Canada have changed. Check out […]

Grammar Tip – A Comma With And

Jennifer’s question: “As I read through cover letters and resumes I’m noticing an overwhelming number of people are putting a comma before ‘and,’ e.g., calculate prices, enter data, and create invoices. Why is this happening? It’s sure not the way we were taught to write when I was in school!” BizWritingTip response: This is a style issue […]

Grammar Tip – All Staff Is or Are

Loreen’s question: “In our organization, I often see phrases such as ‘All staff is required to complete the questionnaire.’ That just doesn’t sound right to me. Shouldn’t it be ‘All staff are required…’?” BizWritingTip response: This question relates to both collective nouns and subject and verb agreement. “Staff” is often used as a collective noun. (A collective […]

Grammar Tip – Apostrophes with Dates and Acronyms

Nancy’s question: “I have a question regarding the use of the apostrophe after dates and acronyms. It used to be standard, but I’ve noticed some lapses lately, e.g., 1900’s is now 1900s, and she grew up in the 80’s is now she grew up in the 80s. And what about plural acronyms? LED’s are the new light source is […]

Grammar Tip – Apostrophes With Plural Possessive Words

Gillian and Char’s question: “What are the rules today to indicate a plural possessive (e.g., six hats that belong to girls)?  We have come across situations where the apostrophe is left out or appears before the ‘s’ in girls, e.g., “six girl’s hats.”  Which is correct?” BizWritingTip response: First, you are right. “Six girl’s hats” is […]