The following information will benefit everyone who writes anything, not just those who write for publication. It will help you when you write those company reports, memos and presentations. You do want to look as if you know what you’re talking about, right? It will help when you write a note to your child’s teacher; that’ll show her/him they’re not the only one with an education! Everyone who has to read the words/song lyrics from your power point, and has a rudimentary grasp on the English language, will thank you. (All right, the last one may just be for me. Stop driving me crazy!) I’m sharing this information as a public service in the interests of clarity in communication, and not because I’m a grumpy old Grammar Nazi.
1. Your/you’re: (a) Your = belonging to you. (b) You’re = you are.
(a) Is that your bike? = Is that the bike belonging to you? / Leave your plate there. = Leave the plate belonging to you, there.
(b) Tell me why you’re here. = Tell me why you are here. / Lord, you’re beautiful. = Lord, you are beautiful.
“Lord your beautiful” is an unfinished sentence. When I read that my brain screams: “Your beautiful…what… is/did/should what?” Please, stop the torture.
2. Its/it’s: (a) Its = belonging to it. (b) It’s = it is.
Now this is a little tricky because we all know (nod your head and smile knowingly) that we usually require an apostrophe to imply ownership; eg: Mary’s bike; people’s opinions. However, in this case we must make an exception to the rule. Why? Well, if we used the “ownership apostrophe” we’d end up with the other word!
(a) Its cave is nice. = The cave it lives in is nice. / Its time is up. = The time it had is over.
(b) It’s a nice cave. = It is a nice cave. / It’s time. = It is time.
You can see how a simple apostrophe can change the meaning of the sentence. Isn’t this fun?
3. Who’s/whose. (a) Who’s = who is (b) Whose – belonging to who.
This is a variation on the problem raised by the its/it’s dilemma. In this case the solution is provided by a different spelling. What a shame no one could think of anything similar for poor old “it”.
(a) Who’s going to the dance? = Who is going to the dance? / I don’t know who’s dancing. = I don’t know who is dancing.
(b) Whose party is this? = Who does this party belong to? (Or> To whom does this party belong?)
Get these right and you’ll communicate clearly, impress your peers and make a grumpy old bag happy. In a later posting I’ll attempt to tackle those tricky little suckers: commas. I bet you can’t wait for that!
Hahahahaaaa haaaa hahahaaaa… Get over it, Wendy. In this world of tweets and texts, no one cares.