Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 14th 2013 Contents B6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt July 14, 2013
The spellcheck on your com-
puter will help you most of the
time, but there are at least four
occasions when it will not provide
1. When you neglect to use the
spell check after you have finished
writing a document;
2. When you really do not know
the correct spelling of a name or
a word. This is where your dic-
tionary or some other form of
research will help you;
3. When you confuse the
homonyms, eg, it s and its;
4. When you do not know the dif-
ference between the Standard Eng-
lish and the American spelling.
Since most of us in former British
territories are using Standard Eng-
lish spelling, the following families
of words will help you to distin-
guish between them. Remember
that your computer has been set
in default American spelling, so
you must, before beginning to
write, go to Tools, and click on Set
Language, then English, then set
English, UK or T&T.
Tips on punctuation
Read the following two sen-
tences and see the change that
punctuation makes to them.
(a) That man said my boss
(b) "That man", said my boss,
The words are identical, but
what a difference the punctuation
makes to the meaning!
I cannot stress enough how
important punctuation is to written
expression. I have had long expe-
rience in reading and correcting
essays and letters and I have found
that if the punctuation is missing
or "careless," I cannot understand
the meaning of what is written
and have often had to re-read, with
mounting annoyance, to get the
gist of the writer s intentions. I am
sure it must cost examination can-
didates untold number of marks
for neglecting the rudiments of
punctuation. In the business world,
too, it must be an occupational
There are 12 punctuation marks
in general use, but the main ones
which I shall deal with here are:
the full stop, the comma, the apos-
trophe, the question mark.
The full stop has two principal
1. To signify the end of a sen-
tence. This is where some writers,
incorrectly, place commas and pro-
ceed as if they have written sen-
tences. A useful motto is: When
in doubt, finish the sentence and
2. To indicate that a word has
been abbreviated: Mr. Mrs. Dr.
St. i.e. e.g. etc.
The comma is used within sen-
tences to indicate a pause between
sense-groups of words:
• after a modifier to the main
statement: Reaching the corner,
he crossed the street.
• to separate words or phrases
in a list: The drawer contained
pens, pencils and paper.
• to enlarge an idea between
subject and verb: The answer,
which was quite unexpected, took
them by surprise.
• as a general rule, commas are
not needed before conjunctions
e.g. and or but.
• Commas are used to indicate
a pause before or after certain
words: However, finally.
It is not advisable, however, to
overuse commas. They should be
used sparingly to assist rather than
to impede the reader s understand-
ing of what is written.
The apostrophe has two major
1. The first denotes possession.
The secretary s (singular) notebook.
The secretaries (plural) notebooks.
2. The other use is to indicate
that a letter (or letters) has/have
been omitted from a word which
has been contracted:
Do not...don t
it s telephone... phone
The question mark is obviously
placed at the end of direct ques-
How many did you buy? When
will he leave for his holiday in New
York? Is it raining?
Interestingly, however, on a
slightly different note, our local
parlance often involves making
statements which end with a slight
inflection of the voice, intending
to sound like a query. You finished?
You didn t find the money? You
leaving now? You coming back
before dark? But that s a whole
other story for another day.
Some tips on spelling
STANDARD ENGLISH SPELLING
center / meter
licence (noun)/ license (verb)
practice (noun)/ practise (verb)
color, labor, honor
colour, labour, honour
When dealing with American businesses or universities, etc, you
would be well advised to use American spelling. Of course, when you
are in the USA, you would be advised to do the same, eg, when you
want a cheque, you had better write check, if you want your money.
Gourie Shaktee Dukeran Ali and Jason Ali will celebrate their two-year anniversary on July 17. In the above
photo, they pose with their wedding party.
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