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Capitalization | Worked example

Watch David work through a capitalization question from the Praxis Core Writing test. 

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] "A sculpture of a Tyrannosaurus rex in Drumheller, Alberta, purports to be 'The World's Largest Dinosaur;' at a height of 86 feet, it's four times taller than the T-Rex fossils actually found in the province." So this is an error ID question. I wanna go through these five underlined options, including no error, and see if there's anything grammatically or stylistically incorrect about this sentence. Okay, so "a sculpture of a Tyrannosaurus rex in Drumheller, Alberta." What is Alberta? Well we know from the sentence that it is a province, specifically it's a Canadian province and that, to me, suggests that this is a proper noun and that this "a" should probably be capitalized. Now we have "purports" for option B. What does "purports" mean? It means to claim. "Purports to be 'The World's Largest Dinosaur." Sure, that is a correct usage of "purport." So, the word means what it says it means and now let's connect it because that's a singular conjugation with its subject, which is "sculpture." "Sculpture purports." Singular noun, singular verb conjugation. And I know it's strange that when a singular noun takes a singular verb conjugation, that verb conjugation has an "s" at the end of it, when the singular noun has no "s." I recognize that's strange. Nevertheless, this is correctly used. Option C, this semicolon. When we have a semicolon, what do we do? A before and after test for independent clauses. So, there has to be one on either side of the semicolon. So let's look for subject, verb. Well, we just found one in the last example so here's our subject, "sculpture," here's our verb, "purports." Okay, what's the next? So this is all one independent clause, great. That can stand on its own as a sentence. Let's find the next one. So where's the subject and where's the verb? Oh, lucky us, it's all in one word: "it's." See, it's a subject and a verb because it's the contraction for "it is," not the possessive, "its," which has no apostrophe. So actually, thinking about this knocks out two at once. Right? Because we have this singular pronoun that corresponds to our singular antecedent, "sculpture." This apostrophe is used correctly to serve as an abbreviation of "it is." And that, in turn, means that this is an independent clause. "It is four times taller than the T-Rex fossils actually found in the province." Cool. So, we've done our before and after test. Here's an independent clause. Here's an independent clause. So this is correct. And while we're at it, that means that "it's" is also correct. So now we're between "Alberta" and "no error," but we've already flagged Alberta as being lower case improperly. And how do we know that's improper? Because Alberta is a proper noun and proper nouns are always capitalized. I know that my handwriting is in all caps, so I'll try to make this more explicit and exaggerated. So just as we would say, "Chicago, Illinois," where I am from, we would similarly say, "Drumheller, Alberta." So I'm gonna say that Alberta is our answer and we're gonna cross off "no error." So my takeaways from this question are really just to say that these errors like this exist and you should be prepared for them. I mean, other than the capitalization error, there's nothing wrong with the sentence, right? Grammatically there's nothing wrong with the mechanics of the sentence. So you just have to be aware that errors like this exist and are tested on. Errors like this and like concision, keep your eyes peeled when you see something that could conceivably be a "no error." First of all, it could be. That is certainly an option. But if it looks like it's mostly perfect, focus on the part that makes it less than perfect. And that's probably where the error lies.