Hyphens and Dashes A hyphen joins two or more words together (mother-in-law, able-bodied) while a dash is used for parenthetical statements (He was – as far as I could see – completely drunk). On a modern keyboard, the hyphen key is at the top between 0 and = In Microsoft Word, a dash is formed in your text by keying a space, then a hyphen, then another space. When you finish the next word, the hyphen will convert into a dash. If you want a dash without spaces, you can find it… Read More
This is a special post for my friend and neighbour, Paul-Enguerrand Fady (aged 15). He asks, following the posts on advice and advise, practice and practise, licence and license: ‘What is the difference between defence and defense?’ The answer is very simple: defence is the UK spelling while defense is the US spelling. The same goes for offence (UK spelling) and offense (US spelling).
A Guide to Using Capital Letters To use or not to use, that is the question The basic rule nowadays is: the fewer capitals, the better. Things have changed considerably over the years, even since I was at school, when we sprinkled capitals gaily throughout our work. Now, it’s thought that too many capitals break up the text on a page and make it more difficult to read. Some words always have capitals: Proper nouns (Proper nouns name specific entities while their opposite, common nouns, name a general class of entities and… Read More
One letter makes all the difference: Affect and effect are frequently confused and I wish I had a dollar, or better still a pound, for every time I have seen them wrongly used. A good way to understand the difference is to remember that affect is normally a verb and effect is normally a noun.
One letter makes all the difference: Practice and practise, licence and license follow the same rules as advice and advise which we posted last week. Practice is a noun and practise is a verb: ‘When she qualified as a doctor, she joined a general practice in a deprived part of the city.’ noun ‘She decided not to practise medicine any longer in order to become an MP and champion the rights of the marginalised.’ verb