Grammar Giggle – It’s Crazy That The News Station Doesn’t Know Its Language Is Wrong

Once again, I had to pause the local news, watch my husband roll his eyes, and snap a picture of this jewel. This is a common mistake because it kind of defies the rules. The possessive of “it” is “its.” The contraction of “it is” is “it’s.” I get that it is confusing, but it’s a concept that can be (and should be) learned. If you are tempted to use the apostrophe, check to make sure it is correct by substituting “it is” for “it’s.” If it doesn’t make sense (and it won’t if it’s supposed to be a possessive), then don’t use the apostrophe. An example is the sentence in this post “. . . but it’s a concept that can be . . ..” You can replace the “it’s” with “it is” in that sentence so it is correct–“. . . but it is a concept that can be . . ..”

Its

 

Random Information

As I’m getting back into the blogging swing, we’ll catch up with some random information this week.

Professional and Personal Titles. When using a professional title, do not use a personal title. For instance, Mr. John Jones, Esq. is incorrect. So is Dr. Julie Smith, M.D. Choose one or the other.

Plurals of Personal Titles. When addressing more than one person, you can pluralize the titles.

  • The plural of Mr. is Messrs.
  • The plural of Ms. is Mses. or Mss.
  • The plural of Mrs. or Mme. is Mmes.
  • The plural of Miss is Misses

Pages and lines. When you are referring to pages and/or lines in another document, you use “p.” for one page or “pp.” for multiple pages and “l.” for one line and “ll.” for multiple lines. Always pay attention to the range of your citation. If you are citing to a deposition excerpt at pages and lines 13:15-15:20, it would be pp. 13:15-15:20. Sometimes the writer will start with one page and just use “p.” everywhere, but if the citation is to multiple pages, you should change it.

Periods With Contractions. Do not use a period after a contraction. For instance, in my recent travels, I saw a sign for a national park that said “Nat’l. Park.” That is incorrect. “Nat’l” is a contraction for “National,” not an abbreviation, so it should not have a period at the end.

Signing Letters and Emails. When a non-attorney is using a signature block in a letter or an email, they should always include their title, i.e., Legal Assistant, Paralegal, etc., so the recipient knows that the communication is not from an attorney.

That is enough randomness for now. If you have random questions, leave a comment below and watch for the response in an upcoming post.

Grammar Giggles – Grammar Check?

I found this on Twitter and it really highlights why you shouldn’t exclusively rely on word processing program spell check and grammar check to proofread your work.

grammar check fail

Grammar Giggles – Hey Red Sox, Stick to What YOU’RE Good At!

Pulled this one from Twitter. Your and you’re are confusing to people. Just remember that if the sentence should read “If you see this, you are in second,” then use you’re–which is the contraction of you and are. If the sentence should be “If you see this, your second base is showing,” it means that second base belongs to you.  Pretty simple if you think about it for a minute or two–so please do!

Red Sox

All ’bout Deletions Using Apostrophes

Apostrophes have uses other than to show possession (see Apostrophail!). The other main use is in a contraction to show where letters are missing. In that case, the apostrophe is placed exactly where the letters are removed and no period is used unless the word is at the end of a sentence.

  • you’re = you areApostrophe
  • don’t = do not
  • he’ll = he will

Do remember to respect a company’s preference when they use an apostrophe in their brand name, i.e., Cap’n Crunch, Dunkin’ Donuts.

There is even a proper format for the apostrophe in a contraction. You should use the single closing quotation mark NOT the single opening quotation mark. When the apostrophe is at the beginning of a word, you will probably get the single opening quotation mark as you type. To remedy that, type both the opening and closing single quotation mark and delete the opening mark. This, of course, isn’t a problem if you use the straight quotation marks, only if you use the curly quotation marks.

Another area of confusion is decades. To correctly type a decade contraction, it is ’80s not 80’s. The apostrophe represents that the “19” is missing from “1980s” and not that the 1980s owned something. Using “80’s” to represent that decade is incorrect.

Remember, however, that in the legal field, contractions are not frequently used. Contractions are used in less formal writing, which doesn’t often happen in a law firm. But if you must use a contraction, please use the apostrophe correctly.

 

Grammar Giggles – Too Bad It’s Not Candid Camera

This week’s Grammar Giggle was found on Twitter (which is a virtual treasure trove of material). Can you spot the error? Then smile!

Confusing Contractions

Contractions are used to indicate where letters are missing in a word. I think that because there may be apostrophes involved, contractions and possessive pronouns are often confused. If the word shows possession, use an apostrophe as necessary to show that possession. (See Astrophail!) If there are letters missing from a word, the apostrophe shows where those letters are missing. Some of the most confusing examples are:

its (possessive)                       it’s (it is OR: it has)
their (possessive)                     they’re (they are) OR: there’re (there are)
theirs (possessive)                    there’s (there is OR: there has)
your (possessive)                      you’re (you are)

If you’re not sure which is correct, test substituting “it is, it has, they are, there are, there is, there has, or you are,” whichever is appropriate, in place of the word that is confusing you. If the substitution does not make sense, it is not a contraction, so you should use the appropriate possessive form.

The dog was chewing on its paw. (“Chewing on it is paw” does not make sense.)

 HOWEVER: It’s time to get ready to leave for the party. (“It is time” does make sense.)

He said, “Your car is leaking oil.” (“You are car” does not make sense.)

HOWEVER: She said, “You’re welcome” when he thanked her for the gift. (“You are welcome” is correct.)

Their house was beautifully landscaped. (“They are house” does not work.)

They’re in their house with all the lights on. (“They are in their house” is correct.) 

Try the substitution test if you aren’t sure if a contraction is appropriate. If it is not, use the proper possessive word. In legal documents, contractions are not used as they are really used for more informal, friendly writing. A legal document is more formal and in an effort to avoid any confusion and keep it more formal, contractions are rarely appropriate. Again, however, this may be a matter of style and preference for a specific attorney. So go out and use contractions at will–except in legal documents and where it isn’t a contraction.