northern Australia or Northern Australia?
Reader’s question: Do you need a capital letter in the word northern for northern Australia?
Answer: The word northern in northern Australia should be lower case because it isn’t a proper noun.
However, I don’t think this is a black and white issue for all descriptive names.
The Australian government style guide (Style manual) says:
‘Names that designate a group of nations geographically or politically are always capitalised.
South-East Asia Central America the Balkans
In contrast, purely descriptive – and unofficial – names for parts of a geographical entity usually do not need to be capitalised:
northern Australia southern Italy
Sometimes, however, descriptive names of this kind develop semi-official status; they are then usually shown with initial capitals:
Central Australia Far North Queensland.’
Reader’s question: Do you use the singular or plural with number of?
Answer: The decision depends on whether a or the precedes number. We use the singular with the number of and the plural with a number of.
The number of people with obesity is increasing.
A number of people in this city are obese.
In grammatical terms, the number in the first sentence is the head of a subject phrase (the number of people with obesity). In the second sentence, a number of modifies people.
Reader’s question: What do you think of saying ‘Let’s know us know what you think’ in work emails?
Answer: I think it is OK in informal speech and in emails to friends, but at work I would use a different expression, such as ‘Let me know what you think’.
Reader’s question: How do you work out a reading age manually?
Answer: Reading age tests measure the readability of writing by estimating the years of formal education needed to understand a text on a first reading. They are often used to make sure a text is suitable for its intended audience.
If you want to do a manual reading age test you can use a Gunning Fog Index:
Microsoft Word uses Flesch-Kincaid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch%E2%80%93Kincaid_readability_test
Year end or year-end
Reader’s question:Which is correct: year end or year-end?
Answer: I think both year end and year-end are acceptable.
Good on you and good for you
Reader’s question: Is there any difference between ‘good on you’ and ‘good for you’.
Answer: I don’t think so. If you know any differences, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Acronym of the month
OMG has won the approval of the Oxford English Dictionary in its latest online update.
Short for ‘Oh my God’ or ‘Oh my gosh’, OMG’s first confirmed use was in 1917.