Sadly, there are moments when I'm mentally removed from what I'm reading to balk at the writing itself. Yes, that's right. Bad grammar. And yes, I am one of those people that has a hard time reading something when there are simple grammatical errors.
This PSA is not meant to be anything but a helpful reminder to people no matter their age of some simple, but easily forgettable, grammar rules. This month focuses on contractions and possessive nouns and pronouns. (Curse those dreaded apostrophes and their multiple uses!) I see all kinds of people making these mistakes, from high school students to writers hoping to be published in the near future. So it may help to peruse over this PSA as you have time and just remind yourself of some things you may have forgotten from English 101.
So let's get started YEEEAAAAH!
Contractions are those really helpful, wonderful combinations of words that lessen your word counts and make it so you don't have to say a mouthful of words in a single sentence. They usually combine the subject of your sentence with a simple verb or sometimes the verb and a helper verb. It depends entirely on the contraction. But I think they're probably one of the best things in the English language.
They can be distinguished by the ever present apostrophe where the words are conjoined at the hip. Some of the most commonly used contractions are as follows:
I am ⇒ I'm
They are ⇒ They're
We are ⇒ We're
He is ⇒ He's
She is ⇒ She's
I would ⇒ I'd
I will ⇒ I'll
We will ⇒ We'll
You would ⇒ You'd
You will ⇒ You'll
He would ⇒ He'd
She would ⇒ She'd
We would ⇒ We'd
He will ⇒ He'll
She will ⇒ She'll
They will ⇒ They'll
It will ⇒ It'll
It would ⇒ It'd
Will not ⇒ Won't
Do not ⇒ Don't
Did not ⇒ Didn't
Could not ⇒ Couldn't
Should not ⇒ Shouldn't
Need not ⇒ Needn't
Must not ⇒ Mustn't
Cannot ⇒ Can't
Is not ⇒ Isn't
Let us ⇒ Let's
Other contractions concerning "subject + is" can simply be made by adding -'s after the noun or pronoun. Example: My brother's staying with us for a short time. "My brother is [...]". See? No big deal here. There are probably about a million other contractions out there that are slipping my mind as I type this, but you get the idea I'm sure.
Unfortunately, there are one or two contractions that cause some confusion when put alongside possessive form nouns and pronouns. We'll get to those at the end of this PSA to avoid some confusion.
Possessive form nouns are a way of showing possession to the noun in question, whether it be material or abstract. Possessive form of nouns is usually made by adding -'s to the end of the noun. (Can you see the confusion building already? Don't get ahead of me.) Example: My brother's life is a sad story. Easily translates to: The life of my brother is a sad story.
There are a few exceptions! Pronouns generally have their own way of showing possessive form. Examples:
She ⇒ Her / Hers
He ⇒ His
Possession pertaining to personal ownership is shown with "my" or "mine", depending on the word placement in relation to the object being owned. "My" is usually used in the subject part of the sentence (before the verb) while "mine" is reserved for after the verb.
Example: My life is ongoing.
This life is mine.
Simple, but effective. Of course, there are exceptions to even this, but this particular PSA is focused on basics. And really, you don't want to read all of that.
Also in writing or speaking, there are times when you need to show possession of a noun to yourself and a group. That becomes "our" and "ours", depending on the word placement in the sentence.
Example: Our job sucks.
That book is ours.
Again, simple, but self-explanatory.
Now, there comes a time in every paragraph's life when there is a noun that's already plural, or that ends in -s already. How do you show a possessive form with this? The most recognizable way (without confusing it for a contraction) is to simply add an apostrophe after the -s.
Example: Julius' day was busy.
My friends' classwork never ends.
Adding the apostrophe at the end makes it recognizable that there's more than one friend being discussed here. Of course, there are some textbooks that allow for there to be -'s after these plural or -s ending nouns as well. It boils down to a matter of teaching and preference. I, personally, was taught to just add the apostrophe. It just depends on what you'd rather do yourself. Only you can make that decision
Now, you may have noticed I left certain possessive forms out of the previous section. This is because they tend to fall into some confusion areas with contractions. This is the common mistake area I mentioned in the beginning of this post. ):
Sadly, there are some contractions out there that look like they should be possessive nouns, and some possessive nouns that don't look like anything at all! There aren't many, but they cause so much confusion for people I see everywhere. Let's talk about them.
They're vs Their
The possessive form of "they" is, in fact, "their" and "theirs" depending on the sentence. It is never "they're". They're is reserved specifically for the contraction of "they are".
So just remember:
They're = they are
Their / theirs = possessive form of "they"
Oh, that one was too easy? Not hard to understand, you say? Okay, let's talk about another one.
It's vs Its
This one I see everywhere, regardless of writing abilities.
It's ⇒ It is
Its ⇒ possessive form of "it"
It's so simple, and yet... 8( I mean, I honestly can't explain this any more clearly, THERE'S NO WAY TO DIAGRAM THIS OR ANYTHING.
Of course, there's another possessive form commonly mistaken for a contraction.
You're vs Your
Another one I see around, but thankfully not as much as some others. But still.
You're ⇒ You are. This won't change any time soon.
Your ⇒ possessive form of "you".
"Oh, that's just a common mistake, anyone would make that." Lies, there's one more that's commonly misused. "ONE MORE YOU SAY, KAT?" Yes, one more.
Who's vs Whose
Yes, the dreaded "who" form. You noticed I didn't mention it anywhere else in this PSA. "Who" is probably one of the strangest pronouns in existence; it has so many detailed rules and conditions to determine what form of it you use. But for right now, we're only focusing on two forms.
Who's ⇒ Who is
This will never, ever be anything different. "Who's" is and will always be the contraction form of "who is".
Whose ⇒ possessive form of "who"
The rarely seen on the internet "Whose" is actually the possessive form of "Who"! Go figure! Something that's commonly forgotten (along with the its vs it's argument). "Whose" will always, always be the possessive form of "who" and nothing else.
And that's it for this PSA. I hope that was helpful and informative for anyone at any writing level!
NEXT PSA: PUNCTUATION AND HOW A COMMA CAN SAVE LIVES!