Punctuation and Grammar

The bugbear of most writers is punctuation and grammar, or the bad usage of.  Even though I am a writer myself, I can guarantee that many of my friends will pick faults with even this article, because there will no doubt be mis-spellings, missing apostrophes and commas used in the wrong place.

Reasons for Good Grammar

My husband will be the first to say how picky I am about spelling and grammar, and I’m always picking him up on his, but there is a reason.  Punctuation, when used properly can change an entire sentence’s meaning.  For instance, one of my favourites would be: “A woman without her man is useless.”  Example 1: “A woman, without her man, is useless.”  Example 2: “A woman: without her, man is useless.”  See?  One perfectly reasonable sentence but with two possible meanings.

A Short Lesson on Apostrophes

So what about those apostrophes?  I’m only to eager to point out that even as a writer I am constantly getting them in the wrong place!  My most common mistake comes to “it’s” and “its”.  Generally speaking, an apostrophe is used to indicate a possession, e.g. “This is Charlotte’s blog” or a missing word e.g. “Don’t be afraid to use a dictionary”.  Apostrophes aren’t used when it comes to indicating more than one e.g. “The mothers sat with their babies”, or where there is no possession e.g.  “I once owned a sports car”.

HOWEVER, it becomes confusing when it comes to the word “it”.  “It’s” refers to a missing letter as in “It’s sunny outside”, while “its” refers to a possession for example “I moved its toy”.  Get it?

To confuse the situation even more is the usage of apostrophes after the letter “S”.  When it comes to possession, grammatically speaking (and I’m sure there are many who will argue with me) we should still insert the letter “s” after the apostrophe, e.g. “James owned a book, it was James’s book.”  But when it comes to plurals, you would drop that second “s” “The mothers all had a cup of coffee.  It was the mothers’ coffee break.”

Confused?  Me too.  And I wrote this blog!

Common Mistakes

Ahh the two most common mistakes that people make, and these I see all the time on Facebook status updates:

  • Your and You’re – Your means it belongs to you, You’re means you are.
  • They’re, Their and There – They’re means they are, Their means it belongs to them and There is a place.
I hope this has gone some way to confuse you more than you already are… and if not, then you obviously already had a handle on apostrophes anyway.  Oh, and can you spot any mistakes I’ve made?  If so, they were intentional to see if you were paying attention.  If not, that’s because I am a perfect writer. (Hehehe…)
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