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
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!


  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?

  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.

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

    Thanks for stopping by yesterday !

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


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