common errors in English improve your English


Getting students to apply emphasis correctly in their writing can be a tricky one, especially now that we have so many ‘new’ methods of communication – like texting, email and instant messaging – to confuse the issue.

Punctuation-wise there’s the exclamation mark, and we can also use inverted commas, as I did with ‘new’, indicating that, while they haven’t been around as long as writing, typing or even computers, these new methods aren’t really new either. In terms of style, we can add emphasis typographically, by underlining, emboldening or italicizing, and this is generally the best option for written work.

What remains largely unacceptable is the convention of those ‘new’ technologies, using capital letters; it’s the equivalent of SHOUTING and is considered rude. Using capital letters in a written assignment (unless it’s a recognized abbreviation or acronym) should really be discouraged. It wouldn’t be accepted in the ‘real world’, and students would be better off not getting into the habit.

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Sharon Creese

1 Comment

  • well, true, but you don’t want them to write ‘kennedy’ or ‘montreal’ and not capitalize..teaching how to capitalize is as important as teaching when not to..but why excluding capitalization tout court? True, in fb and email talk it is considered rude to SHOUT in big letters, but phone, email etc have a different lexicon and register and should not be assimilated to ‘normal’ written tests.

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