Sorting Out the Finer Points of English Grammar

Part of the English Grammar Workbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

The finer points of English grammar can be tricky to get your head around but use the following reminders to brush up your writing skills.

Tricky singular/plural situations:

  • Companies are singular; they take a singular verb and pronoun (it, not they or their).

  • In sentences that contain neither/nor or either/or, match the verb to the closest subject.

What to capitalise:

  • Proper names

  • The first word in a sentence

  • Titles before and attached to names

  • Titles used as substitutes for names

  • The first word and all other important words in a title or subtitle

  • Each letter in an acronym

  • Some abbreviations

What to put in lower case:

  • Years in school (primary 4, second year, and so forth)

  • School subjects, except for languages (history, science and algebra, for example)

  • Titles not attached to or used as names (she’s a professor)

  • Directions (north, south, inward, up and so on)

  • General terms for geographical features (canyon, river, mountain and the like)

  • Academic degrees (a master’s, a bachelor’s degree)

To use possessive nouns and pronouns properly, follow these rules:

  • Make a possessive noun by adding an apostrophe and the letter s to a singular noun

  • Add an apostrophe to a plural noun that ends in the letter s to create a possessive

  • To show possession, add an apostrophe and the letter s to a plural noun that doesn’t end in the letter s

  • Possessive pronouns (my, his, theirs, whose and so forth) never contain apostrophes

  • Place a possessive noun or pronoun in front of an -ing verb form used as a noun (her drawing, Kate’s running, and the like)

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English Grammar Workbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

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