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Grammar, Usage and Punctuatio n

Writing Practice When should a liability first be reported? When should reporting of a liability cease?

Grammar and Usage Affect VS Effect


Less VS Fewer

Misplaced/ dangling modifier

Abbreviations Wrong word Numbers

Affect VS Effect 

Affect is a verb

It will be conjugated or in infinitive form: affects, affected, to affect, will affect

Effect is a noun

It will have an article in front of it (and possibly an adjective): the effect, an effect, an immense effect. Ex: The war in Iraq is affecting US gas prices; an effect of the war in Iraq is higher US gas prices.

Less VS Fewer  Less refers to a proportion  Fewer refers to something you can count

Ex: I have four pieces of pie and you have five. I have less pie and fewer pieces than you.

 So, would you have less or fewer eggs, milk, rice?

Abbreviatio ns There is not a collective agreement on abbreviations, but here are a few rough guidelines:

 Abbreviations typically presented in lowercase usually get periods. Ex: e.g., i.e., a.m., etc.  Academic degrees usually get periods. Ex: Ph.D., D.Ed.

*A dictionary will tell you for sure, and even dictionaries will differ from one another

Abbreviatio ns Acronyms

 Abbreviations that form pronounceable words usually go without


 Abbreviations for government agencies and some other widely used abbreviations use all capital letters and no periods Ex: CIA, NAACP, FBI

Abbreviatio ns  Using abbreviations is fine in standard

writing, but it is a good idea to identify the acronym or abbreviation the first time so that there is no misunderstanding. Ex: He got into trouble because of his involvement in an Individual Retirement Account at work. His IRA went over the limit, and he owed some back taxes.

* Spelling the name out the first time helps, for example, just in case someone were thinking of the Irish Republican Army!

Abbreviatio ns  Add an ‘s to show possession Ex: The CEO’s parking spot

 Add an –s to show an abbreviation is plural

Ex: The CEOs of ten major companies

Numbers  Spell out numbers one through ten  Spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence

Ex: Ninety-five percent of companies agree on this solution.

Pronouns There are two issues with pronouns:

Vague pronoun reference

Lack of pronoun agreement

Pronoun Reference Sometimes it is unclear to which noun a pronoun is referring. Ex: She placed the casebook on the bookshelf where it stood in deep shadows. Ex: Mr. Williams did not agree with Mr. Cantu’s solution, so he got angry.

Pronouns: Lack of Pronoun Agreement Pronouns must agree with their antecedent (the noun a pronoun replaces) in number and case. Ex: Any company employee can access their own email account. Correction: “His” or “her” instead of “their” Ex: Some people say my boss is nicer than me. Correction: “I” instead of “me.” *Hint - finish the sentence…nicer than I am or nicer than Me am?

Misplaced modifier A modifier (phrase/clause that is describing/modifying) must be closest to the object it is modifying.

Ex: Sandra agreed with the lawyer as she listened to the argument presented.

Wrong Word It is easy to use the wrong word accidentally, which shows lack of proofreading/ laziness on the writer’s part. Ex: Their, there, they’re; where, were; used to, use to; its, it’s; you’re, your; whether, weather; compliment, complement.

Punctuatio n Periods

Quotation marks






Periods At the end of a complete sentence With abbreviations and initials.

 If the last word in the sentence ends in a period, do not follow it with another period.

Ex: Robert received his M.B.A. from Harvard. Ex: The meeting will begin at 2:00 p.m.

Commas Introductory phrase FANBOYS Restrictive and Nonrestrictive elements

Words in a series Two or more adjectives describe the same noun

Commas: Introductor y Phrase

Use a comma after an introductory phrase over four words long Ex: Even though we the report yesterday, it still needs to be reviewed by our boss before the presentation.

Commas: FANBOYS Use a comma when joining

two complete sentences with a coordinating conjunction or FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Ex: I attended the meeting, but nothing was accomplished there.

Commas: Nonrestrictive Elements  Use commas around an element that provides extra Restrictive andinformation to the sentence that is not necessary. Ex: Barack Obama, President of the United States, Nonrestrictive plays basketball weekly. can take the info in commas out of the sentence and Elements *Youit doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.

Commas: Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Elements Restrictive Elements


Do not use commas around an element that provides extra information to the sentence that is necessary. Ex: Employees who work overtime money on their next paycheck.

will have extra

*Not all employees just the ones who work overtime

Commas: Words in a Series

Commas: Two or More Adjectives Use a comma when two

or more adjectives describe the same noun Ex: Susan is a loyal, dedicated employee.

Semicolons  Use to separate two complete sentences Ex: Our accountant resigned yesterday; we need to find a new one soon.  Use to separate a list that has commas within it

Ex: The auditors traveled to Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Little Rock, Arkansas to conduct the fraud investigation.

Colons Use after the salutation of a business letter

Ex: Dear Mr. Williams:

Use after a complete sentence

to show something is to follow Ex: Please get the following items: payroll register, list of vendors, and list of accounts payable.

Quotation Marks  Commas and periods always go inside Ex: Some people believe “ignorance is bliss.”

 Colons and semicolons always go outside my

Ex: Some people believe “ignorance is bliss”; mother is not one of those people.

Quotation Marks Question marks are tricky!

 If the quote is the question, the question mark goes inside

Ex: Bill asked “When can I get those reports?”

 If the whole sentence is the question, the question mark goes outside

Ex: Do you think we will “bounce back” from this recession?

Apostrophes  Singular possessive:  The accountant’s client

 Plural possessive:  The accountants’ jobs

 Singular possessive ending in S:

 Thomas’s clients

 Plural possessive not ending in S:

 The women’s accountants

Hyphens Hyphenate numbers from

twenty-one to ninety-nine Hyphenate a compound adjective

(two words that work together to describe a noun) Ex: He has a past-due account.

*Note: only if the two words precede the noun. The account is past due would not be hyphenated.

Grammar, Usage and Punctuation  
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