Today Cressida Downing is giving us the run down of common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them
Common grammatical errors that you should never make
First rule – ‘Is it YOURS?’
There are two ‘your/you’re’ possibilities.
Your means it belongs to you. Such as ‘is that your cat?’ or ‘I love your blog’.
You’re is a shortened way of saying ‘you are’. Such as ‘You’re such a good writer!’ or ‘I think you’re very brave.’
If in doubt about which to use – try substituting ‘you are’. If you try that with ‘is that you’re cat?’ – you’ll see it turns into ‘is that you are cat?’ – makes no sense.
Second rule – ‘Is it over THERE?’
Your options here are ‘they’re/their/there’.
They’re is a shortened version of ‘they are’. For example ‘They’re coming to stay’ or ‘They’re very keen on fruitshoots’.
Their means ‘belonging to them’. Such as ‘I think that’s their mess’ or ‘Is that their baby?’.
There is simply a place. So ‘over there’, or ‘let’s look here and there’.
For a complete round up on these – try ‘They’re leaving their baby over there’!
Third rule – be careful where you use your apostrophes.
Apostrophes are there for a purpose . They are either pointing out some missing letters in common contracted phrases, or indicating ownership.
THEY ARE NOT NEEDED FOR PLURALS.
As we’ve seen above – when you want to say ‘they are’ or you are’ – you often shorten it to ‘they’re’ or ‘you’re’. The apostrophe takes the place of the ‘a’ in these examples.
They can also be used to show who owns something. ‘That’s Alice’s cat’. Note in this example the first apostrophe is showing the shortening of ‘That is’ – the second one shows the cat belongs to Alice.
There are two things that commonly confuse about apostrophes.
The first is ‘IT IS’ – this shortens to ‘it’s’ however – belonging to it becomes ‘its’ with no apostrophe. Such as ‘Is that Alice’s cat sharpening its claws? No – it’s Ben’s cat wrecking the sofa’. So in the first sentence, the cat (apparently) belongs to Alice – and the claws belong to the cat. In the second sentence – IT IS the cat belonging to Ben.
And the last little bit of confusion – and I have some sympathy with this one – is what if a word ending in ‘s’ has an apostrophe waiting to be used? How does that work?
Let’s (let us) have some dogs and their food. ‘That’s the dogs’ food’. Just put the apostrophe behind the ‘s’.
You can read all of Cressida’s posts on editing here.
Cressida will be speaking about editing at Eroticon, find out more about the speakers and buy your tickets at the Eroticon conference site.
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