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YARNLADY's avatar

Grammar question: does a one word or phrase answer in "social" have to be capitalized?

Asked by YARNLADY (42576points) 1 month ago

My single phrase answer was moderated because it was all lower case: i.e. “system of laws/rules” I can’t find a grammar rule to cover this.

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12 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

I’ve been dinged for it now & then. The gods must be forgiven for confusing omnipotence with perfection. We must not be allowed to forget who’s boss.

Jeruba's avatar

This seems very odd to me. It’s a matter of style, not grammar, and I don’t see much necessity for trying to enforce style rules under those circumstances. I think maybe I’ll test it.

Pinguidchance's avatar

It’s common in English for a simple sentence to look like this: “He moderated the answer.” In this case, the sentence structure is “Subject, verb, object.”

Sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop.

Then there’s the weft and warp of the yarn to consider.

SavoirFaire's avatar

[Mod Says] The Social section guidelines make reference to the writing standards, which clearly state that “proper spelling, capitalization, grammar and punctuation are important to us.” Single words or phrases aren’t exempt from these expectations.

Brian1946's avatar

i think the only time you can away with no capitalization, is when you’re pretending to be e. e. cummings. ;-)

YARNLADY's avatar

@SavoirFaire I looked up capitalization rules and I find nothing that states a one word, or phrase requires a capital. It’s not the first word of a sentence, nor is it a proper noun There were several other one word answers on the same question, and, yes, they each had a capitol letter at the beginning.
I would like to see a rule that covers a one word answer. I’m all for proper capitalization, I simply can’t find this covered.

Jeruba's avatar

What’s at issue is not whether there’s a rule about proper capitalization, but rather what constitutes proper capitalization when it comes to a single word or brief phrase as an answer. How those are treated is a matter of style, and you can find style guides that go either way.

I’m all in favor of writing standards; in fact, I think having them is one of Fluther’s great strengths. But I do think it would be going too far for Fluther to adopt a specific style guide—Chicago, say, or APA, or MLA—and require all contributors to adhere to it. Fluther is not a publishing house. And even traditional publishers understand something about the necessary elasticity of rules.

longgone's avatar

[Mod says] This is a very interesting question. Like @SavoirFaire said, it’s common practice for us to remove all-lowercase answers, even if they do only contain one word. That’s been the case as far back as 2010.

However, @Jeruba makes a good point.

I wonder whether Ben and Andrew decided to adopt this particular rule because they figured it would be the easiest path to follow. For users less knowledgable about these matters, it might be very confusing to have “system of laws/rules” stay up, while “that’s a good system” would be moderated.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Being one word or one phrase long does not change anything. Here is a sentence with one word: “No.” Here is a sentence with one phrase: “Thank you.” Both require the first word to be capitalized. What’s relevant here is not the lack of a rule saying that one word or one phrase sentences must be capitalized but the lack of an exception saying that they need not be capitalized.

I’m all for the elasticity of rules. When the mobile version of the site started getting more use than the desktop version, I argued that we should be lenient on answers that started with a lowercase letter but were otherwise correctly punctuated and capitalized. This was because phones at the time wouldn’t automatically capitalize a word unless it directly followed a terminal punctuation mark (with no built in exception for the first word of a message).

I was overruled. Ben and Andrew wanted to keep the standards high, and it was decided that expecting people to manually capitalize the first letter of a message was no more demanding than expecting them to capitalize a proper noun in the middle of a sentence (which I think is fair, but I was more willing than others to make concessions to technology). These days, you actually have to manually remove capitalization from the first letter of a message on most phones, so the concession is no longer applicable.

kritiper's avatar

Yes. A one word answer is the same as a one word sentence. It starts with a capital letter and ends with a period.

stanleybmanly's avatar

All in all, our site is fairly flexible in its tolerance for mangled rules and tortured English. The truth of this is demonstrated when it comes to questions and answers from folks not proficient with (in?) conversational English. The practical result is that the mods (more often than not) “pick on” those they assume should “know better”. And I think this is probably the only way “standards” should be applied if we’re to put dialog ahead of formal English. Frankly, punctuation or grammar transgresssions don’t trip my switch. We can wade through those, though it is essential that at least the appearance be maintained of reining them in. It’s the appalling number of questions that amount to word puzzles that drive me crazy.

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