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Grammar Tips & Tidbits


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Capitalization―Part II


Since the rules for capitalization are virtually endless, we'll continue our discussion from last week. The following rules are based on Section 3 of The Gregg Reference Manual, tenth edition.¹

Rule #1: Do not capitalize references to academic years like freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.

Rule #2: Do not capitalize the names of decades or centuries, unless they are considered special expressions. Example: during the twenties vs. during the Roaring Twenties.

Rule #3: If the word the precedes the name of an organization and is part of an organization's legal name, it should be capitalized. Examples: The Olive Garden or The Associated Press. However, the word the is not capitalized when the name is used as a modifier, like in the phrase the Wall Street Journal article.

Rule #4: Capitalize official titles of honor and respect when they come before personal names. On other hand, do not capitalize a title when the personal name follows the title and is set off by commas. Compare the following examples. Do you see the difference?

        ● Mayor John Smith will present a new plan for the city.
The mayor, John Smith, will present a new plan for the city.

Rule #5:
Capitalize references to a supreme being, persons regarded as holy, names of religions, and religious events: God, Allah, the Messiah, the Prophet, Buddha, the Apostles, Saint Peter, Judaism, Mormons, the Second Coming. You should also capitalize pronouns referring to a supreme being when they stand alone. Example: Give praise to Him. Religious works that are regarded as sacred should also be capitalized, but should not be italicized, quoted, or underlined. Examples: the Ten Commandments, the Torah, the Lord's Prayer. Do not capitalize the word bible when it refers to a work that is not considered sacred. Example: The dictionary has become my bible.

Did you catch the subliminal message in the previous sentence?

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1. Sabin, William A. The Gregg Reference Manual. Tenth Edition.
         New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2005, pp. 92-119.