Happy Thanksgiving!

Thinking about Thanksgiving here in the United States got me thinking about names of holidays and grammar rules. For instance, if you use Eve or Day with the name of a holiday, i.e., Thanksgiving Day, you capitalize day. However, if you were to say “the day before Thanksgiving,” day would not be capitalized. Religious holidays are also capitalized

  • Good Friday
  • Hanukkah

Even some “invented” holidays are capitalized

  • Black Friday
  • Pi Day

Is happy capitalized when used with a holiday? If you exclaim “Happy Thanksgiving!” then it is, but if you use it in a regular sentence “I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving,” then it is not.

Generally, the seasons of the year are not capitalized unless it is part of a proper name.

  • This winter seems to be colder than normal.
  • The Phoenix College Spring Semester 2014 will begin in January.
  • HOWEVER: The fall semester is nearly over.

When using seasons to describe time of year, remember that seasons are reversed in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. When it is summer in the U.S., it is winter in most of South America and Australia. In that case, it is clearer to say “the first three months of the year,” or “the last quarter of 2014.”

As for possessives with the word “season,” the phrase Season’s greetings! is possessive because you are referring to holidays that happen only during one season—winter. Possessives with names of holidays are usually singular; however, where the holiday is plural, the apostrophe is after the plural word:

  • Presidents’ Day (celebrating more than one president)
  • April Fools’ Day (more than one fool)
  • Mother’s Day (each family celebrating its mother and it is the official name of the holiday)
  • Father’s Day (same)
  • HOWEVER: Veterans Day (official name of the holiday)

The official holiday name wins out over plurals and possessives, so you may just have to look it up to be positive you are correct.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and know that when I count my blessings, the people who read my blog faithfully, those who stumble across it, and those who cheer me on are near the top of my list. Thank you!

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Grammar Giggles – Right Turn, Left Turn

I got this one from Twitter. Traffic signs that are confusing are the worst. People depend on traffic signs to help them navigate from Point A to Point B, and when they aren’t completely clear or are completely incomprehensible–like this one–it just adds stress to an already difficult activity.

Right lane

Grammar Giggles – I Don’t Think the Months Are Spelled Differently in Canada

Here’s an example of a very simple error that wasn’t caught by a Toronto newspaper. This is an error that word processing spell check should actually find. Don’t always ignore the red squiggly lines–they may have a message you need to pay attention to.

Toronto Star

Pretty Is As Pretty Does.

One of the important pieces of proofreading is making sure your document looks good (in addition to being accurate). Here are some tips for aesthetically pleasing documents:

  • Avoid widow and orphan lines. Those are the single lines or words at the top of a page (widow) or at the bottom of the page (orphans). Use the Word para widow orphan control feature to keep the widows and orphans away.
  • Check to see if the entire document is justified or not justified. Particularly where there is a lot of cutting and pasting or different people working on the document, you may see that some paragraphs are justified while others are not. Consistency is what matters. Decide which to use and make sure all the paragraphs are that style
  • Is the spacing even? Some paragraphs could be double, some could be 24 space, some could be 1.5 lines. To some people, that would all look “close enough,” but to someone checking how a document looks, you will notice that (and judges and opposing counsel may well notice it too).
  • Are the margins even on every page? Make sure the margins match paragraph to paragraph and page to page. Something I see a lot is where someone pulls the right hand margin in for a quotation and it doesn’t get changed back to the original margin.
  • Do the headings line up at the same tab stop consistently throughout the document and are they numbered consecutively? This is an important step in the process. Sometimes one last run through just to check paragraph numbers is worth it. It is much better than opposing counsel saying in a motion that they object to Paragraph, well we don’t know what it is because there are two Paragraphs numbered 3 and no number 5. It is best to set up styles and number that way, but no matter which way you go, at least check it.
  • If you, the author, or the client insists that a document line up with pleading paper line numbers, try to get it there. It takes time and can be highly frustrating, but you can get close. And it really does look much nicer to have it all aligned with the numbers (and it is easier to refer back in a subsequent document to a page and line number if necessary).

Following these steps will help you have a document that looks like someone cared enough to make it look right–because YOU cared.

 

Grammar Giggles – Dear Radford University, It’s Spelled “Virginia”!

I always am particularly disheartened when schools make simple grammatical errors. Perhaps it is just that I have a higher standard for educational institutions. Here is an example of why. If I had received this diploma after four years of hard work, I would not be happy. Of all the things that should be spelled correctly, the state you are in should be at the top.

Radford University

Grammar Giggles – Daylight Saving Time Reminders and Chickens–I Think.

This was all over Facebook and since this is the clock “falling back” weekend for most of the US, I thought it was appropriate–well, appropriate for a lesson. Since I’m an Arizona native and Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, perhaps moving chickens is another part of the ritual. However, I honestly think this is a perfect example of what a difference one letter can make.

Daylight Savings