Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.
TODAY’S TOPIC: COMMON NOUNS VS. PROPER NOUNS (Appositives)
Seems easy, right? Madonna is a woman. Target is a store. My Prius is not a cool car. Capitalize the proper nouns and leave the common ones lowercase. OK, but guys, if it’s so easy, then WHY are you still doing things like this:
- I would love to speak to the President.
- The Detective closed the case.
- FBI Special Agent Melissa Ruiz discovered an alien.
STOP IT. Seriously. DON’T capitalize anything unless you’re talking about a specific noun. If you’re using the noun to indirectly reference something, it should not be capitalized. If, on the other hand, you’re using it alone as part of a name, uppercase away, my friends (and yes, I just verbed a noun. Twice. Sue me). Like this:
- I would love to speak to President Obama.
- I want to re-open the case, Detective McHottie.
- Did you discover an alien, Agent Ruiz?
FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:
Appositives are tricky . . . they give more information about the words following them, and they’re often official titles. They come BEFORE the name, but they’re used as descriptions of the person rather than as part of the title.
APPOSITIVE – ap·pos·i·tive –
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