Capital vs Capitol

capitol building with dome against blue sky

Photo by Caleb Perez on Unsplash

Today we’re going to learn the difference between capital and capitol and a method to remember which is which.

Capital means the city that houses a state or country’s main government. It also means money and business assets and the type of letter that is not lowercased. In this post, however, we will be using the first definition.

Examples:
London is the capital of England.
Atlanta is the capital of Georgia

Capitol means the building in which a legislature meets. A legislature is the group of politicians that has the power to make laws.

Examples:
The Capitol Building in Washington, DC, has an iconic dome.
The politicians debated a bill at the capitol well into the night.

How to remember the difference:

“Capital” has an A.
A = Atlanta (capital of the state of Georgia)
OR
A = Athens (capital of Greece)

“Capitol” has an O.
O = dOme
Capitols are often in buildings with domes.

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and founder of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company that focuses on women author-entrepreneurs. To learn how she can help you with your next writing project, check out her website.

You can also read her blog about writing here.

Follow Erin on social media:

Twitter: @GrammarParty
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What are mass nouns?

a guide to mass nouns

Mass nouns, also called “uncountable nouns”  and “noncount nouns,” are substances, objects, and concepts that cannot be divided into separate parts. By their nature, they can only be plural.

Think about emotions. Let’s take happiness, for instance. Happiness exists as a general idea. You can’t break happiness down into its particles. You cannot hold in your hand one happiness or two happinesses. Thus, it is a mass noun.

The same goes with “sand.” There are beaches filled with sand, but you can’t find one sand. However, you can dig your hand into the ground and come up with grains of sand. This illustrates one of the rules with mass nouns.

You explain how much of a mass noun exists by placing a describing word in front of it.

  • a grain of sand
  • a piece of news
  • a gallon of water

Another rule is that English treats mass nouns as if they were singular, even though they are plural. For instance, instead of using the verb “are,” use “is.”

Correct: This juice is delicious.
Incorrect: This juice are delicious
Correct: Greed is dangerous.
Incorrect: Greed are dangerous

And if a verb drops an “s” with plural nouns, it will keep the “s” for mass nouns.

Correct: The cheese tastes yummy.
Incorrect: The cheese taste yummy
Correct: Your jewelry looks expensive.
Incorrect: Your jewelry look expensive.

Types of Mass Nouns
Here are some of the categories mass nouns fall into with examples:

  • weather: rain, snow, sleet, sunshine
  • feelings: anger, happiness, fear, courage
  • liquids: orange juice, tea, water
  • gasses: air, helium, argon
  • states of existence: childhood, sleep, sickness
  • ideas: advice, motivation, existentialism
  • powder: flour, makeup powder, powdered sugar
  • foods: cheese, rice, pudding, butter

Other Examples

  • traffic
  • art
  • chaos
  • currency
  • education
  • furniture
  • information
  • luggage
  • marketing
  • livestock
  • music
  • patriotism
  • power
  • wood

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and founder of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company that focuses on women author-entrepreneurs. To learn how she can help you with your next writing project, check out her website.

You can also read her blog about writing here.

Follow Erin on social media:

Twitter: @GrammarParty
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Imply vs. infer

imply vs infer

It’s easy to understand why people get imply and infer confused. Their meanings are related and similar. In this post, I will explain what these two words mean and show you how you can remember the difference between the two.

imply: to suggest or express something in an indirect way

For example, if you are talking to your friend, and you notice their breath reeks of garlic and onions, you may pull out a tin of mints and say “Want one?” as a way of expressing to them indirectly that their breath stinks. In this case, you are implying they have smelly breath.

infer: to conclude, especially from an indirect suggestion

For example, if you just ate garlic and onions for lunch, and your friend asks you if you want a mint, you could infer from their indirect suggestion that you have smelly breath.

Memory aid
When you infer, you are taking in information to analyze in order to come to a conclusion.

So taking in information = infer since they both use in.

You can just remember that imply means the opposite.

With imply, you are putting out suggestions.

With infer, you are taking in information.

Quiz:
Choose either imply or infer for the spaces below.

  1. Trixie yawned and yawned in order to _____ to her guests that it was late and she wanted them to leave.
  2. Trixie looked at her failing quiz grades and _____ed she needed to study really hard for the final.
  3. Trixie stopped answering Brad’s texts, trying to _____ that she didn’t want to talk to him anymore.
  4. Brad gave Trixie flowers and asked what she was doing Friday night, _____ing he wanted to go on a date with her.
  5. When her aunt asked whether she ever wanted kids, Trixie burst out laughing. Her aunt _____ed her answer was no.

1) imply; 2) inferred; 3) imply 4) implying; 5) inferred

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and owner of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company helping women reach their publishing goals. To see whether her services are right for you, and to schedule your free five-page sample edit or thirty-minute coaching consultation, email her at Erin@dotanddashllc.com.

 You can also read her blog about writing here: Dot and Dash blog

 Follow Erin on social media:

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I.E. vs. E.G.

i.e. versus e.g.

I.e. and e.g. are abbreviations people use to give more information about a topic. In this post you will learn what i.e. and e.g. mean, their Latin root words, and how to tell them apart using a mnemonic device.

i.e. = in other words

The abbreviation i.e. comes from the Latin words id est, which means that is. We use it to give more details about something and to clarify.

Example: Liza has only one hobby (i.e., bowling).

Here we say that Liza has only one hobby, and we clarify that her one hobby is bowling. We could also say: Liza has only one hobby, in other words, bowling.

Note that the explanation that comes after i.e. can be the only answer.

e.g. = example

The abbreviation e.g. comes from the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which means for the sake of example. We use it to give examples of something.

Example: Stacy saw many animals at the zoo, e.g., flamingos, giraffes, and unicorns.

Here we give examples of what animals Stacy saw at the zoo. She saw flamingos, giraffes, and unicorns, but those weren’t the only animals she saw. Those are examples of just some of the many animals she saw. Unlike with i.e., the explanation that comes after e.g. is only one or more of the possible answers.

Mnemonic Device

To remember what they mean, we’re going to say i.e. = in other words because they both start with the letter I, and e.g. = example because they both start with the letter E.

i.e. equals in other words; e.g. equals example

Quiz

Choose either i.e. or e.g. to fill in the spaces below. The answers are at the end.

  • The unicorn is skilled at hundreds of games, _____, poker, charades, and field hockey.
  • Unicorns are found in the wild in only one region, _____, the Philippines.
  • Unicorns can do many jobs (_____, accountant, glassblower, fitness coach, and talk show host).
  • Sal the unicorn has a favorite party trick (_____, blowing glitter from his horn).

 

Answers: 1) e.g. 2) i.e. 3) e.g. 4) i.e.

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and owner of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company focused on helping women author-entrepreneurs reach their publishing goals. To learn more about how she can help you, no matter where you are on your writing adventure, check out her site: Dot and Dash LLC. There, you can also read her blog about writing: Dot and Dash blog.

Follow her on social media:
Twitter: @GrammarParty
Instagram: @dot_and_dash_llc
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The Difference Between “Historic” and “Historical”

Photo of Big Ben at night
London’s Big Ben is a historic clock.

This post will teach you the difference between historic and historical. These two words have similar meanings and get confused a lot, so don’t feel bad that you haven’t memorized their definitions.

Historic describes an important and momentous event, person, place, or thing in history.

  • The Revolutionary War was a historic event in the United States.
  • Marie Curie is a historic figure in scientific history.
  • Big Ben is a historic clock.

Historical describes anything that belonged to an earlier time period and relates to history.

  • Grandma found historical dinner plates at the yard sale.
  • The farmhouse from the 1800s is historical.
  • We looked at a historical map of our town to learn its original design.

To remember the difference, think about historic as being something big (meaningful to many) and historical as something small (meaningful to a few).

For instance, the first flight of the Wright brothers is big. It’s meaningful to many people. So choose historic.

Meanwhile, your first plane ride is small. It’s meaningful to a few people. So choose historical.

I hope this clears up any confusion. If you enjoy reading about writing and literary topics, too, check out my other blog, Dot and Dash.

Erin Servais is a book editor and author coach focusing on women author-entrepreneurs. She can help you succeed and make progress on your goals no matter where you are in the writing process. To learn more about her skills, check out her business’s website: Dot and Dash LLC.

Follow Erin on social media.
Twitter: @GrammarParty
Instagram: @dot_and_dash_llc
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