This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .
Lesson 4 explains mechanics. This resource deals with capitalization.
Lesson 4: Mechanics
This lesson addresses mechanics. Questions about mechanics make up 25 percent of the questions in Part I of the GED Language Arts, Writing test. Reviewing these skills will also help you prepare for the GED Essay and improve your language skills in general. Topics addressed in this resource are as follows: capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.
Some of the multiple-choice questions will ask you to correct errors in capitalization. To prepare for these questions, become familiar with the following rules for what words to capitalize and what words not to capitalize. Familiarizing yourself with these rules will also help you to edit your essay.
Always capitalize the names of people.
- I think Harrison Ford is in that movie.
- My girlfriend introduced me to her friend Maria.
Capitalize titles, like doctor, professor, and judge, when they refer to a specific person. Don’t capitalize those words when they refer only to an occupation.
- He was sentenced to five months’ probation by Judge Karen Wilcke.
- The course was taught by Professor Johnson.
- When I was a kid, I thought I’d be a doctor, but I became a professor instead.
Capitalize family relationships only when they are used as part of a person’s title.
- Sarah’s Aunt Trudy bought her the ugliest sweater I’ve ever seen.
- My mother is named Nancy Barker.
Capitalize the names of political, racial, social, national, civic, and athletic groups.
- The local Red Cross is holding a blood drive today.
- I love to watch the Chicago White Sox play baseball.
- This university has a high population of Asian-American students.
Always capitalize the names of specific places: cities, countries, geographic regions, street names, schools and universities, and landmarks.
- She is originally from Cairo, Illinois, but now she’s living in New York City.
- On my vacation next week, I’ll get to see Mount Rushmore.
- This flight will be my first time flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
- When we were kids, we played basketball on Arbor Street.
- I’m taking classes right now at Heartland Community College, but I will transfer to Illinois State next year.
Capitalize words that are derived from the names of places, including languages.
- My favorite Italian city is Florence.
- Celine Dion is my favorite Canadian singer.
- I am learning to speak Spanish.
Do not capitalize directions or other general geographical words.
- The mall is just a little bit south of here.
- I think I would enjoy living in the desert.
- The state is cracking down on drunk drivers.
Dates and Events
Always capitalize names of months, days of the week, and holidays.
- I was sick for nearly the entire month of November.
- Jamie isn’t available on Tuesday, so we’ll need to schedule the meeting for Wednesday.
- My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, but Valentine’s Day is a close second.
Capitalize the names of historic events.
- My research paper is about the Vietnam War.
- We will study the Great Depression during this unit.
Do not capitalize the names of seasons, unless the season is part of a title.
- I love fall because of crisp, cool air.
- We are going to bike a lot during summer vacation.
- I am taking my last two classes during the Fall 2008 semester.
Titles of Works
Always capitalize the titles of articles, books, magazines, songs, albums, television shows, plays, etc.
- This month’s Rolling Stone had a really interesting article on punk music.
- The song “No Excuses” is the best grunge song ever.
Don’t capitalize short prepositions or articles (the, an, of, etc.) if they aren’t the first word of the title.
- The best Shakespeare play, I think, is Romeo and Juliet.
- I’m tired today because I stayed up all night watching The Office.
- My favorite book is definitely The Catcher in the Rye.
Capitalize the brand names of specific products.
- I love Pepsi, but I absolutely hate Mountain Dew.
- My first car was a Chevy Cavalier.
Do not capitalize the general names of products.
- I sort of feel like pizza tonight, but I could go for burgers and fries instead.
- It would be nice to have a convertible, but it’s too cold for it here in North Dakota.
Some of the following sentences contain capitalization errors. Identify and correct the errors. Note: not all sentences contain errors.
1. I read To Kill A Mockingbird when I was in High School.
2. We went to Maui for vacation last year.
3. I don’t drink Coke, but I’d love a Diet Soda.
4. I hear you’re learning to speak french. I would love to go to France.
5. Jamie and Jonathon went to their high school dance together last May.
6. My Father-in-Law took me to a Chicago Cubs game; He doesn’t know I’m a White Sox fan.
7. Jessica’s dad, Dr. Johnson, wants her to be a Doctor as well.
8. Jeremy went to Alexander community college for two years.
9. My sister’s new boyfriend is italian.
10. We traveled South on vacation because my dad wanted to study Civil War history.
Click here for exercise answers.
week before I flew to Cuba I began to dream about my father. For several nights he appeared in a pose I recognized but could not place: Standing by the side of a road in front of a filling station, his hat in his hands, watching me as I moved farther and farther away from him.
It was not unusual for me to dream about my father. He died in the winter of 1973, but my dreams of him earlier were solely about an absence of something I observed, sometimes, in his eyes.
My father, near his death, was a gaunt, coffee-colored man, with a fine large nose and immense dark and intelligent eyes. All his life he worked for other people doing rough, unpleasant labor that forced him (along with a wife and eight children) to subsist on as little as $300 a year. My father was then a poor man, exploited by the rural middle-class rich, like millions of peasant laborers the world over. But as a child I was not aware of any others. I though it was my father's own peculiar failing that we were poor.
My excitement over going finally to Cuba did not divert my interest from the new dream I was having of my father. Every night it came: Him at the side of a Georgia highway, large eyes full of--what? Me moving farther and farther away.
I thought of my father's face as I boarded a Cubana airplane in Mexico City, and again when I was escorted off the unmoved plane, and it and my luggage were thoroughly searched by Cuban flight personnel. Three weeks before my trip, a Cuban airliner carrying 73 passengers was blown up over the Caribbean, the Central Intelligence Agency held responsible by the Cubans. Was this why I dreamed of my father? Was the fear I felt, suddenly surfacing, the reason I dreamed of my father? Was he trying to tell me now, as he often had in life, that my curiosity about other places and people could endanger my life?
But the plane, four hours being schedule, finally lifted us to Havana. And there, waiting for me on the patio of a lovely old mansion, was my father.
The same coffee-colored skin, the same large nose, the same vibrant and intelligent eyes.
My father's name in Havana was Pablo Diaz, and he spoke Spanish, which I do not understand. Pablo Diaz's resemblance to my father was so striking that when he opened his mouth and Spanish came out, I glanced about to locate the source of the trick.
Before the Cuban Revolution, Pablo Diaz had been like my father, a man who might have belonged to any country, or to none, so poor was he. So unlikely it would have been for anyone in the Government to wonder or care what he wanted of life, what he thought, what he observed.
He had cut cane, done the "Hey, boy!" jobs of the big cities (Havana and New York) and had joined the revolution early--an option my father had not had.
From the anonymity he shared with my father, Pablo Diaz had fought his way to the other side of existence; and it is from his lips that many visitors to Cuba learn the history of the Cuban struggle.
As an official spokesman for the Cuban Institute for Friendship Among Peoples, this black man, telling the Cuban story to whoever comes, increases my respect for the Cuban Revolution. Mr. Diaz talked to us about the revolution for three hours, his cadence as steady as a griot's; every turning in his people's progress he knew by heart.
He spoke of the black mambises (guerrillas of the 1800's), of Jos� Marti, the "father" of Cuba; of Antonio Maceo, "the bronze titan"; of the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953; the Mexican exile of the revolutionists; the fighting in the Sierra Maestra; the abdication of the tyrant Batista; the triumph of the revolution; and of Che, Camilo and Fidel.
Helping to throw off his own oppressors obviously gave him a pride in himself nothing else could, and, as he talked, I saw in his eyes a quality my own fathers eyes had sometimes lacked: the absolute assurance that he was a man whose words--because he had acted on his beliefs--would always be heard, with respect, by his children.
There is no story, beyond this, of Pablo Diaz. I saw him twice during my two weeks in Cuba. I told him he reminded me of my father. He replied, "You honor me." In a photograph I have of us posing with our Cuban and African-American group, I see that his hand is resting on my shoulder, and I am easy under it, and smiling.
The hotel was still in deep silence; it seemed that nobody had waked up. The only sounds came from two maids who were cleaning near the kitchen, but they must have been shouting to each other because I could hear everything they said. One told the other that she had a very beautiful poem. Or rather that she had two. And one of them she had sent to her mama on Mother's Day. The other maid talked about her classes in the hotel and that she was taking down a dictation on the United States. They said something about their Ancient History class, and that they were taking a "History of Cuba up to '57." One of them said the arithmetic and algebra classes were the dullest ones, but the other said she liked them. I watched them go off with their pails leaving the red terrace floor shining with water.
--"In Cuba," by Ernesto Cardenal
The transformation of Pablo Diaz from peasant to official historian deeply impressed me. I envied his children, all the children of Cuba, whose parents are encouraged and permitted to continue to grow, to develop, to change, to "keep up with" their children. To become campa�eros as well as parents. A society in which there is respectful communication between generations is not likely, easily, to fail. While considering these thoughts, I finally recalled the incident that is the source of the dream I was having about my father. It is a story about economics, about politics, about class. Still, it is a very simple story, and happens somewhere in the world every day.
When I left my hometown in Georgia at 17 and went off to college it was virtually the end of my always tenuous relationship with my father.
This brilliant man, great at mathematics, unbeatable at story-telling, but unschooled beyond the primary grades, found the manners of his suddenly middle-class (by virtue of being at a college) daughter a barrier to easy contact, if not actually frightening. I found it painful to expose my thoughts in language that to him obscured more than it revealed. This separation, which neither of us wanted, is what poverty engenders. It is what injustice means.
My father stood outside the bus that day, his hat--an old gray fedora--in his hands, helpless as I left the only world he would ever know. There was no metamorphosis possible for him as there was for Pablo Diaz. So we never spoke of this parting, or of the pain in his beautiful eyes as the bus left him there by the side of that lonely Georgia highway, and I moved--blinded by tears of guilt and relief--ever farther and farther away; until, by the time of his death, all I understood, truly, of my father's life, was how few of its possibilities he had realized, how relatively little of its probable grandeur I had known.
Alice Walker's most recent book is "Meridian," a novel.
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