Saturday, August 08, 2009

Grammar School for Bloggers: Contractions



If you’re a blogger, you want your blog to look as professional as possible. Unfortunately, many of us are a little rusty in the English department. With that in mind, I’ve decided to start a recurring feature on this blog called “Grammar School for Bloggers” where I give a few tips and pointers for using proper grammar, spelling, word choice, etc. I’ve been an editor and a writer for many years, so I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way in these areas. Even if you’re not a blogger, I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful in your everyday life.

Today’s subject is contractions. For example, it’s important to know when to use:

you’re vs. your
and
it’s vs. its

Here’s the trick: A contraction is a combination of two words.
you’re = you are
it’s = it is

Therefore, to figure out if you should use a contraction in a sentence, substitute the two words it stands for to see if it makes sense.

For example:

You’re a great person.
Substitution: You are a great person.
Make sense? Yes, so the contraction is correct.

Are you going to you’re class reunion?
Substitution: Are you going to you are class reunion?
Make sense? No. The correct sentence is: Are you going to your class reunion?

More examples:

My dog chases it’s tail.
Substitution: My dog chases it is tail.
Make sense? No. The correct sentence is: My dog chases its tail.

It’s time to go to bed.
Substitution: It is time to go to bed.
Make sense? Yes, so the contraction is correct.

If you think contractions are easy, then you’re right!




4 comments:

  1. Oh my god, thank you for this post. I know it's silly but these things drive me crazy:)
    Can you do one about the fact that "a lot" is two words? :)
    And one on the appropriate use of an apostrophe for possessive vs. plural?

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  2. Hi, Lani! Thank you for the suggestions! I'll add them to my topic list. I've started planning future columns, and the two mistakes you mentioned are ones that I see all the time, too.

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  3. What a great idea for a blog. I will definately book mark your site.

    Thanks for stopping by yesterday !

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  4. I know I need to get better about watching my grammar. I always mess up effect and affect too.

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