Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Words to Watch

I've noticed too often lately words being used incorrectly. It happens all the time on message boards, Twitter, blogs, and other places where people write (obviously). I'm not going to take too much time to go over this today, as I've seen this topic in other blogs, but it still happens, so I want to just take a post to go over it. I'm just going to take a few simple ones that should be the easiest to avoid.

One such pair of words is its and it's. This one is easy enough with just a bit of memorization. If you remember that it only gets an apostrophe as a contraction, you're good to go. It's is the equivalent of it is. If you want the possessive, there is no apostrophe.

Problems with your and you're also seem to be popping up all over the Internet. This one is even easier than its and it's in my opinion. The contraction, you're, is the same as saying you are. The apostrophe is simply taking the place of the "a" in are and the space between the words. The simplest way to describe your, however, is to call it the possessive form of you. Instead of the apostrophe used to show possessive with you, your is used instead. For example, we wouldn't say you's jacket, we'd say your jacket.

One more I want to cover is actually a trifecta: their, there, and they're. Their is the possessive form of they. For example: It is their lunch. They're is a contraction for they are. The apostrophe takes the place of the a in are and the space between the two words. There is a bit more tricky to explain. It can be an adverb, pronoun, noun, adjective, or interjection. You can click here to see its many uses. Basically, since I'm keeping it real simple today (we can go into more depth in the comments or via email if you want to get deeper into this subject), just know you're pretty safe using "there" if the word you're looking for is not a contraction or the possessive form of they. Obviously it's more in depth than that, but for quick first-draft type writings, that'll get you through just fine.

I still often type the wrong words when I'm trying to get through something quickly. Usually when you do that, it's fine to just wait for your revision before you fix it. But if you're doing something like a blog, twitter, or message board post where your first draft is your final draft, follow these simple rules to help yourself with these sometimes tricky words. There are plenty of other tricky words that I've notice causing problems out in cyberspace, as well, but remember these three for now. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.