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This is my futile attempt to try and spread a little grammatical enlightenment among the denizens of the internet. I have created a small link image (which you will find at the bottom of the page) which links to this article that I have taken to using in my signature on the forums I post in. It may well be bows and arrows against the lightning, but if even one person learns how to place an apostrophe correctly, or the difference between 'where' and 'were' then it will have been time well spent.
Now, I have worked in Engineering IT for the last 17 years, so I'm no stranger to atrocious spelling, garbled grammar and people who don't know that the CAPS LOCK WILL SWITCH OFF TOO. In fact, when the year above mine graduated they had t-shirts printed which read, "FOWER YEARS AGO I CUDNT EVEN SPELL ENJUNEER AND NOW I ARE ONE", which might have been funny, were it no so very close to the truth. So you'd think I'd be getting numb to it. But in truth, as a stickler, it never, ever stops getting under your skin.
To make matters worse, I've now started participating in various forums and I'm having a hard time not pulling up every post that needs correcting. So, to stop me from wasting my entire life and, more importantly, coming across as a complete git, I thought I'd have a little banner in my sig that was just there, constantly displaying the most common mistakes. And it links to this page, should the curious or unwary click on it.
So let's get down to it. Obviously grammar is a huge subject and I'm not going to cover everything - just the most troublesome areas. If you feel compelled to learn more, then I'll be providing links to further material at the bottom of the page.
That's just a posh term for words that sound the same. I found an excellent list of them here but I won't be covering all 500+ pairs listed. There are four groups of these that seem to cause constant trouble.THERE, THEIR and THEY'RE
The first two in particular seem to get the most abuse, but I've seen them all merrily interchanged at one point or another. Here's the correct use:
These ones seem to get mixed up even more often than those above. In actual fact there are a few more in this group - yaw, being a roatation about a vertical axis; yore, when referring to the 'olden days'; and if you want to start getting silly, Midge Ure (ex Ultravox front man) or the river Ure in North Yorkshire, England - but given their relative rarity they don't seem to pose any real threat.
Strictly speaking these aren't actually homophones, except in certain dialects, yet the spellings still seem to be frequently interchanged.
To be honest, I don't think I've ever witnessed the incorrect use of the number, "two", but the other two seem to cause confusion.
A few more that are less common but still worthy of note and a brief description.
These tiny little lines seem to be the biggest stumbling block in writing. They are present in most of the homophone groups but that's not the only place they cause trouble. The most common and jarring mistake is its inclusion in plurals. So let us start with:
Plurals never, ever have an apostrophe before the 's'.
And that includes abberviations such as CDs, DVDs, PCs, and numbers such as 9s and 1970s. Sentences such as, "The instructions are included on the CD's," should have your brain screaming, "the instructions are included on the CD is what?"
There may be a typographical argument for using one for lower case letter plurals such as, "mind your p's and q's," but according to the grammatical rule this is technically incorrect.
This leaves two basic correct uses of the apostrophe.
An apostrophe indicates missing letters or numbers.
When writing in a colloquial style that shows words that are often run together when spoken, the apostrophe shows where the missing letters have been removed. This is called a contraction. Most common of these, and therefore often confused with plurals, is the contraction of a word with "is". "The car's fast," "The water's cold," and "My PC's broken," are all legitimate uses.
Other common contractions are:
An apostrophe indicates possession for nouns.
Nouns are names of things. Generally, to indicate possession you add "'s", as in "the cat's pyjamas". The only exceptions to this are plural nouns that end with an "s", when only the apostrophe is added; "The houses' front doors were all missing", and personal pronouns which are discussed below.
Possessive personal pronouns do not have apostrophes.
The big one of these is "its", meaning "belonging to it". The easy way to remind yourself of this is that "his", "hers", "ours", "yours" and "theirs" don't have one, so neither does "its".
Here's the banner I use in my signature.
Feel free to use it yourself. Here's the code:
<a href="http://www.unstableovine.net/?p=cggi.php" target="_NEW"><img src="http://www.unstableovine.net/images/sigs/cggi.gif" border=0/></a>
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