Abbreviations - D
An abbreviation is a shortened version of a word. For example, Mr. is the abbreviation of Mister. Students
are expected to understand how to correctly shorten, or abbreviate, grade level-appropriate words.
It may be helpful to explain the concept of abbreviations to the student. Develop a list of words that can be
abbreviated. An example is:
Whole Word: Boulevard
Help the student correctly abbreviate words. Sample words can be found in the student's textbooks, his or her
teacher's vocabulary list, and style manuals.
Commas: Dates (Month/Day/Year)
A comma is a punctuation mark used to set apart ideas or segments of meaning, and to set off dates, addresses,
and parts of a letter. At this level, commas are used when writing the month, day, and year in a date.
Examples of the use of a comma in dates:
-Did you read the horoscope for July 13, 2004?
-My youngest aunt was born on December 14, 1955.
-Your final exam will take place on the morning of June 8, 2005.
However, when a date includes only a month and year, the comma is omitted:
-The events of July 1968 changed Rodrigo's life forever.
-Marisela and her twin brother Carlos were born in September 2003.
To help the student practice adding a comma to a date, you may wish to provide several examples of dates for
the student to use in a sentence or in isolation. For instance, you may use dates that the student is familiar with,
such as his or her date of birth, important historical dates, or the student's first day of school. Using these
dates, have the student create a sentence with the comma inserted in the correct place.
Below are some sample dates for the student to use, as well as a completed practice exercise.
1. Month: August Day: 16 Year: 1997
My older sister begins her freshman year of college on August 16, 1997.
2. Month: January Day: 1 Year: 2005
3. Month: November Year: 1979
4. Month: October Day: 31 Year: 2004
5. Month: March Year: 1902
Spelling - C
Spelling is based on the vocabulary words commonly used in this grade level.
An interesting method for improving spelling is home "spelling bees." Create a list of spelling words and quiz
the student each night. Spelling words can be found in the student's textbooks and on his or her teacher's
Also, help the student develop good spelling habits:
1. The student should keep a log of any words he or she misspells. Writing these words the correct way in a
log will help him or her remember the proper spelling in the future.
2. The student should pronounce words carefully. Articulating words correctly will help him or her deduce the
spelling of a word.
3. The student should visualize words as he or she writes or pronounces them. Many words are spelled
differently from how they sound; visualizing them helps cement odd spellings in the student's memory.
4. The student should proofread everything he or she writes. Everyone misspells a word from time to time, so
it is important to always double-check written work.
Quotation Marks - C
Quotation marks are used to set off dialogue, direct quotes, and titles of short stories, articles, poems, and
A direct quotation records someone else's words. It is capitalized if the quotation is a complete sentence; if it is
a fragment, it is not.
- George Washington once said," I cannot tell a lie."
Use quotation marks around dialogue to show when one or more people is speaking. When writing dialogue,
begin a new paragraph if the speaker changes.
- Erin looked under her desk, in her pants pockets, and in her coat pockets. Finally, she asked, "Where's
"I put it in your backpack," Jan said.
Place quotation marks around titles of short stories, articles, poems, and songs.
- My favorite poem is "The Road Less Traveled."
The student should practice using quotation marks for each purpose. On a sheet of notebook paper, write the
following headings, skipping lines between each:
Have the student fill in the blanks with the correct examples.
Organizing Information - C
Organizing information applies to taking notes and outlining information. Developing the correct outline
format is essential to mastering this skill.
Outlines present information in categories. Within each outline category, subcategories further classify
information. Consider the following example of an outline about colors:
Outline Topic: Colors
I. Primary Colors
II. Pastel Colors
The topic is divided into two main categories (primary and pastel) which are then further divided into
Many people use outlines to organize information in preparation for writing. Also, outlines are used to
determine how different types of information relate to one another. It may be useful to help the student
develop an outline for his or her interests. Before beginning to write a paper, he or she should try to organize
ideas in an outline.
Verbs: Past Participles - B
A participle is a verb that always operates as an adjective. The past participle demonstrates an action that
happened in the past. In the sentence, "Delayed, she rushed to the airport terminal," the word "delayed" is the
past participle and "rushed" is the operating verb.
Help the student develop sentences that include past participles. Work with the student and help him or her
distinguish the past participle from the verb of each sentence he or she creates. Start by giving the student the
list of words below. Ask him or her to create two sentences for each word. One sentence should use the word
as a verb, the other should use the word as a past participle.
Words used as verbs:
1. She smiled at the bus driver.
2. He thought about the correct answer.
3. Amuse the children while I get the cake.
Words used as past participles:
1. Having smiled at the driver, she boarded the bus.
2. Having thought about the answer, he raised his hand.
3. Amused at the show, they stayed for the second act.
Fragment/Run-On Sentence - D
A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought.
A fragment is an incomplete sentence that cannot stand alone because it conveys partial meaning. For
example, "A movie about kids" and "likes fun music" are fragments.
A run-on sentence is a sentence that contains too much information. "My dad baked a cake it tasted great
without frosting" is a run-on sentence.
Examples of Fragments
A sentence fragment does not express a complete thought for one of several reasons:
1) It is missing a subject, or it is missing a predicate.
Running quickly across the field. (missing subject)
Over thirty men. (missing predicate)
2) It is a subordinate clause.
When we left this morning.
Because she was late for her meeting. Examples of Run-On Sentences
A run-on sentence consists of two or more sentences that run together as if they were a single thought. There
are two types:
1) Fused - When two or more independent clauses are joined without a coordinating conjunction or endmark.
The lightning flashed brightly in the sky the thunder roared in my ears.
2) Comma splice - When two or more independent clauses are joined by a comma instead of an endmark.
I didn't hear you come in, I must have had the radio turned up too loudly.Practice:
Below are some sentence examples for the student. These examples will help him or her practice identifying
and correcting sentence fragments and run-ons. First, ask the student to identify whether the sentence is
complete, a fragment, or a run-on sentence. Next, have the student correct the sentence. The first two
examples are completed below. After the student has mastered the examples below, you may wish to find
more sentences for them to use as practice. You can use sentences from his or her textbooks, local newspapers,
magazines, books, or, you may create your own.
1. Yasser grabbed his backpack and headed down the stairs. (Complete Sentence - No changes necessary)
2. Ahmad and Kwesi on their sleds. (Sentence Fragment - a verb needs to be added)
3. Nikita and Symphonee heard the sound and ran, they could not believe how frightened they felt.
4. I don't really want to.
5. Can you believe that Gisele lied to her mother I mean I would never be that disrespectful.
6. So much to learn.
7. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, glowing in the sky.
8. Bring a toothbrush in your suitcase don't forget the toothpaste either.
9. The small antelope.
10. Give me that pencil!
Commas: Compound Sentence
A comma is a punctuation mark used to set apart ideas or segments of meaning. They are also used to set off
dates, addresses, and parts of a letter. At this level, commas are used within compound sentences.
Example of the use of a comma in a compound sentence:
I cannot believe you would cheat on the exam, yet I have never known you to be a perfectly honest person.
In a compound sentence, a comma is used to separate clauses. A clause is a group of related words containing
a subject and a verb. Two types of clauses exist— main clauses and subordinate clauses. Main clauses
express a complete thought. Subordinate clauses cannot stand alone. The following are all clauses:
-I prefer rye bread (main clause)
-that is landing in the afternoon (subordinate clause)
-Open the window (main clause)
-when you lock the kitchen door (subordinate clause)
In a compound sentence, two main clauses are connected by a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating
conjunctions include: for, nor, and, but, or, yet, and so.
Examples of commas used to separate main clauses in a compound sentence:
1. Aunt Ida lost her car keys, and she cannot remember where she left a spare set.
2. Khalil ran quickly, but he still could not catch the thief.
3. Paris brushes her hair, and then she brushes her teeth.
It would be helpful to practice adding commas to compound sentences with the student. To do this, find
sentences from his or her school books, reading materials, newspapers, or magazines. Give the student a list of
compound sentences with the comma removed. Have the student remember that the comma in a compound
sentence usually comes before the coordinating conjunction. By having the student memorize the definition of
a main clause, as well as the list of coordinating conjunctions, he or she can master adding commas to a
Below are some sample sentences for the student to begin his or her practice.
1. Marjorie could not tell her mother a lie for she was a very honest person.
2. Arlene Rosado invited ten people to her party and she even included her favorite teacher.
3. Mikhail does not like celery nor does he like carrots.
4. I would attend your party but I just can't find anything nice to wear.
5. You should either wear your blue jacket or you should wear your red vest.
6. I cannot seem to make a decision for either choice could result in a disaster.
7. I am arriving at North Station this afternoon so you should wait for me by the clock tower.
At this level, the student should be able to recognize a word that is capitalized correctly or incorrectly when
used in a direct quotation.
Here are some basic rules to keep in mind.
A direct quotation records someone else's exact words.
The first word of a direct quotation is capitalized if the quotation is a complete sentence; if it is a
fragment, it is not capitalized.
George Washington once said, "I cannot tell a lie."
My mother told me, "Never go outside with wet hair."
The principal warned us, "Anyone caught cheating will be punished."
All she could remember of his speech were the following words: "...and that is how a pair of shoes made
me who I am today."
A divided quote is a direct quotation broken into two parts by words such as he asked or she said. The first
word of the second part is not capitalized unless it begins a new sentence.
"This puppy," Gitana said, "is the one I want to buy."
"Who," asked Isis, "broke my bat?"
Ask the student to choose several passages of dialogue from his or her favorite book, magazine, poem, short
story, or even comic strip. Duplicating a passage without the quotation marks, ask the student to correctly
place quotation marks where he or she feels the dialogue begins and ends. The student should use the
capitalization of certain words as clues. Additionally, instead of removing the quotation marks, you can have
the student work on a passage that is written entirely in lowercase letters, thereby requiring him or her to edit
and revise the passage.
At this level, the student should be able to correctly capitalize the titles of books, magazines, and newspapers.
When capitalizing titles, it is important for the student to remember that each word in the title will be capitalized
except the following:
Do not capitalize articles unless they are the first or last word in a title. Articles are a, an, and the.
Do not capitalize coordinating conjunctions unless they are the first or last word in a title.
Coordinating conjunctions are: and, but, or, yet, nor, and for (when it is used as "because").
Do not capitalize prepositions unless they are the first or last word in a title. Some prepositions include
between, under, above, in, on, with, of, for, to, over, and beneath.
Incorrect: We read cooking pasta for the whole family for our home economics class.
Correct: We read Cooking Pasta for the Whole Family for our home economics class.
Incorrect: Does the library have racso and the rats of nimh available for check out?
Correct: Does the library have Racso and the Rats of Nimh available for check out?
Incorrect: My mother receives how to tend to your perfect garden each month in the mail.
Correct: My mother receives How to Tend to Your Perfect Garden each month in the mail.
Incorrect: Uncle Victor subscribes to the trouble with being in between.
Correct: Uncle Victor subscribes to The Trouble with Being in Between.
Incorrect: My cousin, Yousef, paid thirty-five cents for the boston globe.
Correct: My cousin, Yousef, paid thirty-five cents for The Boston Globe.
Incorrect: Angelina delivers new york newsday each morning.
Correct: Angelina delivers New York Newsday each morning.
A good way for the student to practice capitalizing titles is to compose creative titles for items around the house.
The student will need markers, crayons, and construction paper. Using these supplies, have the student make
signs for specific articles or rooms. Though these items will not be newspapers, magazines, or books, this
activity will help the student learn which words in titles are capitalized and which words are not.
Here are some examples:
Instead of the kitchen, use The Place Where Dad Once Burned the Chicken.
Instead of my favorite sneakers, use Shoes I Wear When I Need a Boost.
This activity can be enjoyable for all, since it will require both creativity and correct capitalization skills.
Here are additional examples for the student to use when practicing capitalization.
1. the room where my baby brother sleeps
2. the cat's favorite toy
3. a baseball mitt I used in third grade
4. this is the best shampoo in the world
5. the remote control that we can never find
At this level, the student will be able to capitalize abbreviations, common acronyms, and initials correctly.
Some abbreviations, all acronyms, and all initials are written using all capital letters.
Abbreviations are shortened forms of one or multiple words. In an address, the state is abbreviated using two
capital letters. Some examples are listed below. Ask the student's teacher for a reference on all state
abbreviations. They can be found in textbooks, encyclopedias, or on the Internet.
Examples of state abbreviations:
Abbreviations that are used in names of companies or organizations are created from the first letter of each
word and pronounced as individual letters. Articles (a, an, the), prepositions (on, over, to, for, under, with,
etc.), and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, yet, for, nor) are typically not included in the creation of an
abbreviation. Below are some examples of abbreviations capitalized correctly. Periods are not used after
abbreviations of organizations or government agencies.
Examples of abbreviations created from multiple words:
PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)
AAA (American Automobile Association)
Examples of abbreviations created from single words:
St. (Street or Saint)
An acronym is an abbreviation that forms a pronounceable word using the first letters or groups of letters in a
multiple word title of an organization, establishment, or other expression. Below are some examples of
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
CAD (Computer-aided Design)
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
An initial is the first letter of each word of a person's complete name. Below are some examples of initials
capitalized correctly. When using initials, place a period after each letter.
P. J. (Peter Jacobs)
F. S. (Franklin Schmeigel)
N. C. B. (Nanette Coltrane Byrd)
It may be helpful for the student to search for acronyms, abbreviations, and initials in a newspaper or magazine.
Have the student keep a detailed chart or list, recording any abbreviations, acronyms, or initials and what they
stand for. This will help the student not only to recognize acronyms, initials, and abbreviations, but also to
understand the capitalization and punctuation of certain letters.