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:
ď‚§ Abbreviations typically presented in lowercase usually get periods. Ex: e.g., i.e., a.m., etc. ď‚§ 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
ď‚§ Abbreviations that form pronounceable words usually go without
Ex: NASA, AIDS, NIMBY
ď‚§ Abbreviations for government agencies and some other widely used abbreviations use all capital letters and no periods Ex: CIA, NAACP, FBI
Abbreviatio ns ď‚§ 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 ď‚§ Spell out numbers one through ten ď‚§ 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:
ď‚§Vague pronoun reference
ď‚§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. Cantuâ€™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
Periods ď‚§At the end of a complete sentence ď‚§With abbreviations and initials.
ď‚§ 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 ď‚§ 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 doesnâ€™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 ď‚§ Use to separate two complete sentences Ex: Our accountant resigned yesterday; we need to find a new one soon. ď‚§ 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:
Plural possessive not ending in S:
The women’s accountants
Hyphens ď‚§Hyphenate numbers from
twenty-one to ninety-nine ď‚§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.