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WT 332 Checking Mechanics

Teacher Tips and Answers


WT 332

Page 332

Checking Mechanics

In the past, people set type by hand. They reached into an upper case to grab capital letters and into a lower case to grab small letters. Now, these letters are all right there on your computer. But when do you use uppercase and lowercase letters? This section gives you rules and examples.

It also helps you write plurals of nouns and use numbers and abbreviations correctly. Think of this section as your toolbox for the mechanics of language!


Checking the Toolbox
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Proper Nouns and Proper Adjectives

Capitalize all proper nouns and proper adjectives. A proper noun names a specific person, place, or thing. Proper adjectives are formed from proper nouns.

  Montana is Spanish for “mountain.”

  Ohio is Seneca for “great river.”

  (proper nouns)

  I love Mexican food.

  I also enjoy Chicago-style pizza.

  (proper adjectives)

Words Used as Nouns

Capitalize words such as mother, father, mom, dad, aunt, and uncle when these words are used as names.

  If Mom asks, Dad and I went to see Cousin Aidan in a play.

No capital letter is needed if you say our mother, my dad, and so on.

  My dad said my cousin was hilarious.

Titles Used with Names

Capitalize titles used with names.

  King Charles III

  Secretary of State Blinken

  Dr. Jane Goodall / Dame Jane Goodall

  Mayor Eric Adams

Do not capitalize titles when they are used alone: the king, the doctor, the mayor.

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Capitalization (continued)


Capitalize abbreviations of titles and organizations.

  Mr. (Mister)

  Mrs. (Missus)

  NBC (National Broadcasting Company)

  MLB (Major League Baseball)


Capitalize the first word and last word of a title and every important word in between.

  “The Wheels on the Bus” (song)

  “I Have a Dream” (speech)

  Peter Pan and Wendy (movie)

  How to Eat Fried Worms (book)

  The Chronicles of Narnia (series)

  Into the Woods (musical)

First Words

Capitalize the first word of every sentence.

  Vacation begins today.

Capitalize the first word of a direct quotation.

  Mom said, “Let’s go to a movie.”

  I replied, “What should we see?”

Days and Months

Capitalize the names of days of the week, months of the year, and special holidays.

  Sunday  May  Cinco de Mayo

  Easter   July  Juneteenth

Do not capitalize the seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter.

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Geographical Names
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Capitalize / Do Not Capitalize
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Most Nouns

Plurals of most nouns are made by adding an s.

  friend → friends

  toe → toes

Nouns Ending in ch, sh, x, s, and z

The plurals of nouns ending in ch, sh, x, s, and z are made by adding es to the singular.

  bunch → bunches

  six → sixes

  peach → peaches

  mess → messes

  bush → bushes

  buzz → buzzes

Nouns Ending in y

The plurals of nouns that end in y (with a consonant letter just before the y) are formed by changing the y to i and adding es.

  party → parties

  baby → babies

  puppy → puppies

  spy → spies

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The plurals of nouns that end in y (with a vowel before the y) are formed by adding s.

  donkey → donkeys

  tray → trays

  key → keys

  boy → boys

Irregular Nouns

Irregular nouns form a plural by taking on an irregular spelling.

  woman → women

  man → men

  child → children

  goose → geese

  ox → oxen

  mouse → mice

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Writing Numbers

Numbers from one to nine are usually written as words; numbers 10 and over are usually written as numerals.

  two  six  12  36  144  1,760

Except: Numbers being compared should be kept in the same style.

  The cast of Scrooge has actors from ages 8 to 88.

Very Large Numbers

You may use a combination of numbers and words for very large numbers.

  342 million  14 trillion

Sentence Beginnings

Use words, not numerals, to begin a sentence.

  Twelve students signed up for the park cleanup day.

Numerals Only

Use numerals for any numbers in the following forms:

Numerals Only
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Common Abbreviations

An abbreviation is the shortened form of a word or phrase. Many abbreviations begin with a capital letter and end with a period.

  Ms.  Mr.  Dr.  St.

  a.m.  p.m.  adv. (adverb)

Days of the Week

  Sun. (Sunday)

  Mon. (Monday)

  Tues. (Tuesday)

  Wed. (Wednesday)

  Thurs. (Thursday)

  Fri. (Friday)

  Sat. (Saturday)

Months of the Year

  Jan. (January)

  Feb. (February)

  Mar. (March)

  Apr. (April)

  May (May)

  Jun. (June)

  Jul. (July)

  Aug. (August)

  Sept. (September)

  Oct. (October)

  Nov. (November)

  Dec. (December)


An acronym is a word formed from the first letter or letters of words in a phrase.

  NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)


An initialism is like an acronym, but the initials (letters) are not pronounced as a word.

  MVP (most valuable player)

  NBA (National Basketball Association)

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State Abbreviations
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Address Abbreviations
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English Language Arts:

Lesson Plan Resources:

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Vocabulary List:
  • mechanics: rules for capitalization, plurals, numbers, and abbreviations

Vocabulary List:
  • capital: uppercase letter used for beginnings of sentences and names

Vocabulary List:
  • abbreviation: shortened form of a word or phrase, ending with a period

Vocabulary List:
  • plural: word referring to more than one, most often ending in s or es

  • irregular noun: noun that changes form to indicate plural

Vocabulary List:
  • numeral: number indicated using Arabic numerals (1, 2, 6, 321, etc.) instead of words

Vocabulary List:
  • abbreviation: shortened form of a word or phrase, ending in a period

  • acronym: word formed from the first letters of a phrase (for example NASA)

  • initialism: the first letters of a phrase, each pronounced individually (for example, FBI)

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