Monday, November 17, 2008

Just A Few Pointers

I make a lot of mistakes when I write stuff.
In fact, going back and reading old Threshold posts can be downright painful given the number of typos, misspellings, wrong word choices, and sentences that just plain don't make sense that I find.
Still, it's rather the nature of the beast when it comes to blogging. After all, I don't spend a lot of time proofreading and editing after writing a post, and I'm sure the same holds true for most other bloggers. Overall, it's understandable and forgivable.
That being said, at least when I go back and see these mistakes I recognize them as being mistakes.
For many other bloggers I'm not sure that's actually the case.
So, as a service to others - and a way of being snarky even though I'm clearly a pot calling a kettle black - I present this handy guide to help others avoid some of the most common mistakes I see on other blogs and Web sites.
Note that "!=" means "is not equal to."

breath != breathe
it's != its, the possesive form of it - it's is a contraction for "it is"
loose != lose
prolly != probably (I'm willing to make an exception in text messages or IMs, but in any less time-sensitive communication it won't kill you to spell out probably. At least, it prolly probably won't.)
should of != should've, a contraction of "should have" - "should of" is utterly meaningless
there != their (belonging to them) or they're (they are)
to != too or two
UR != Well, anything, really. Sure, it works as shorthand for "you are," but there is no
circumstance under which it can be used to indicate "your" or "you're"
woman != women
your != you are, or its contraction you're

Also note that most of the time when you think you need an apostrophe you probably don't.
Apostrophes do two things: they indicate possession or that a word is a contraction.

Tom's house (the house belonging to Tom)
That's a spicy meatball (That is a spicy meatball)

Of course, this does lead to the its/it's confusion, but really, it's just a matter of remembering that when you say that something belongs to it you don't need an apostrophe, which doesn't strike me as being all that difficult. Its is a possessive noun just like his, hers, yours, and theirs. Apostrophes need not apply.

Now, bearing in mind that apostrophes are only necessary in two specific instances, it should come as no surprise that you don't need it to do something such as indicate plurality.

I borrowed some DVDs from Mike. Correct.
I borrowed some DVD's from Mike. Incorrect.

People like to use the apostrophe to indicate plurality (meaning that there is more than one) because they think it provides a visual cue that might otherwise be lacking.

Is a sentence such as
"I got sick because I ate ten taco's."
Any clearer than
"I got sick because I ate ten tacos."
Or does the apostrophe in the first sentence make you wonder "Ten taco's what? What possession belonging to the ten tacos did you eat?"

Note also that even if you were indicating something that belonged to ten tacos the apostrophe placement would be incorrect, as when there is more than one of something, the apostrophe goes after the "s."

Given the context of a sentence, people are going to be able to figure out what you mean when you write DVDs, or even dvds, or tacos, or lemmings, or...well, pretty much anything.

To summarize, Apostrophes: You're probably doing it wrong.
As an example of making several of the above-mentioned mistakes, I'll restate that:

Apostrophe's: Your prolly doing it wrong.

Keep these things in mind when making blog posts and you'll find yourself considerably less likely to be attacked by Grammar Nazis in the comments. You'll still make mistakes - we all do - but at least they'll be honest mistakes.
For more information, check your local library, or, you know, just remember the basic rules of grammar that you should have learned in school.

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...