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Basic Grammar rules

by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions (

Let’s face it, not many of us actually enjoy grammar or thinking too hard about using it, and that includes me!

Using basic grammar may be second nature for many of us, but those who struggle with grammar and those who are helping others learn grammar, the following summary may be of benefit.

  • Capital letters are only used for proper nouns and the start of a sentence. Proper nouns are names of specific people, places and things such as Jane, Frank, Paris, Buckingham Palace, Adelaide and the Swan River. The letters of an abbreviated name may also be in capitals, such as the MCG for the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the ATO for the Australian Taxation Office.
  • Every sentence must end in a full stop (.), exclamation mark (!) or question mark (?). Add a space before starting the next sentence.
  • A noun is a naming word and a verb is an action word. There should be at least one noun and one verb in every sentence.
  • Only one punctuation mark is needed. So there is no need for the following:
    • It was great!!!!!
    • How are you?.
    • She said “I left it on the bench.”.
  • An apostrophe shows ownership or stands for missing letters
    • To save writing ‘the boy owned the book’, we can use an apostrophe and write ‘the boy’s book’. The apostrophe comes after the owner and before the s; note that words ending in s have the apostrophe without an added s.

Correct use:

Boy’s toy                     the boy owns the toy
Boys’ bikes                  the boys own the bikes
Women’s clothes          the clothes owned by women
Dr Seuss’ books           the books owned by Dr Seuss

o       An apostrophe is used to show missing letters in an abbreviation. Examples:

I am                 becomes                       I’m
he is                 becomes                       he’s
we will              becomes                       we’ll
you are             becomes                       you’re
they are            becomes                       they’re

o       Apostrophes are not needed after decades, numerals, letters and common acronyms (e.g. 60s, 70s, DVDs, CDs, xs, 3s)

  • Paragraphs make documents much easier to read. If hand writing, starting each paragraph in from the edge is common practise although this is optional in typed documents.

  • If writing a list, separate items by commas (,) or make a bulleted list. For example, ‘it is good to have a dictionary, your text book, note paper and a quiet place for studying’.

  • Use ‘example’ or ‘etcetera’ in a list – not both. Both words indicate that the list is not complete so there is no need to repeat that information. Note that the short form of these words are e.g. and etc. with the full stops included.

  • Keep your singular and plurals clear. If using a singular noun, use a singular verb; if using a plural noun, use a plural verb.

     Correct use:

     The boys were running
     The girl was running
     The man yells at the boys
     The women yell at the girls
     I am happy
     We are happy

  • If the abbreviated word has the last letter of the original, no full stop is required. For example, ‘Mister’ is abbreviated as ‘Mr’ and ‘Missus’ as ‘Mrs’, but ‘Reverend’ becomes ‘Rev.’.


Clear communication is critical to the success of any business, but it is often left to care for itself in many businesses. Tash Hughes is a professional and skilled writer who makes technical and otherwise boring information accessible for everyone a business needs to communicate with. Next time you need webcopy, articles, newsletters, reports or any other business document, visit to see how Tash and her team can help your business succeed.


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