Grammar Giggle – There’re

This showed up for me recently. I’m not sure what the attraction would be to make a contraction from “there are” when you are only taking out the “a” and adding the apostrophe. And do people really say “there’re” instead of “there are”?

There're

Grammar Giggle – It’s

This is a very common error I see. The apostrophe here is for a contraction. It’s is a contraction for “It is.” But that doesn’t fit in the restaurant’s advertisement. “Its” is the possessive form of the pronoun “it.”

its

 

 

Attorneys and Apostrophes

Attorneys and ApostrophesI found this article and thought it was interesting. Incorrect use of apostrophes is probably my biggest pet peeve. It isn’t really hard. If you need to show possession or show that letters are missing, use an apostrophe. Otherwise, for the most part, do not use an apostrophe. There are, of course, exceptions, but you need to learn the difference because I’m pretty sure that you don’t want your attorney’s work to be the topic of a FindLaw article.

Attorney Objects to Motion’s Use of Apostrophes, Possessives

Though she managed to graduate from law school, Anissa Bluebaum apparently never managed to master elementary school grammar.

Or at least that’s what her fellow attorney had to say when he responded to a complaint in a civil lawsuit filed by Bluebaum.

Her egregious use of apostrophes made it impossible to tell who she was referring to and when.

Anissa Bluebaum is representing Alison Peck (a teacher who was busted for sleeping with her students) in a lawsuit against her former probation officer, Rebecca Martin, reports the Springfield News-Leader.

When Martin’s attorney, Richard Crites, received the complaint, he was a bit baffled. But Crites soldiered on, responding on behalf of his client.

With 8 pages of questions.

Apparently, the lawsuit was filed against Martin and her brother, but because Bluebaum had rendered the complaint incoherent by misusing both “defendants” and “defendant’s,” Crites was unable to tell whether statements were referring to one or both parties.

He also requested that Bluebaum respond to his request in paragraph form.

Did Bluebaum write her pleading like a stream-of-consciousness text message, too?

As you may know, glaring grammatical errors can be disastrous to your case (and make you look a bit ridiculous). So the next time you’re confronted with multiple parties to which you need to attribute actions or statements, keep the following in mind:

  • Defendants is more than one defendant;
  • Defendant’s is the possessive of a singular defendant; and
  • Defendants’ is the possessive of more than one defendant.

If you’re still unsure, ask around–you don’t want to end up like Anissa Bluebaum.

http://blogs.findlaw.com/greedy_associates/2011/06/attorney-objects-to-motions-use-of-apostrophes-possessives.html

 

Grammar Giggles – It’s = It Is

Another one from my local news. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is” and not possessive for “it.”

Its

Confusing Words of the Week

It’s time for “Confusing Words of the Week” where I take a set of two or three words that get confused and give you definitions and try to give you a memory trick to help you remember when to use which word. If you have words that confuse you, use the Ask PTB tab on the website or send an email to proofthatblog@gmail.com and they may appear here soon!

This week’s words are:

their – belonging to them. Their car was the red Lexus. (The red Lexus belonged to them.)

there – in that place. He placed his books there on that table. (He placed his books in that place.)

they’re – contraction of “they are.” They’re planning to go to the event on Saturday. (They are planning to go to the event on Saturday.)

Lots of people struggle with these.  If you can replace the word with “they are,” use they’re. If not, then it is either there or their. Does it belong to someone? Then use “their.” If it doesn’t belong to anyone and they are doesn’t make sense in its place, then it is probably “there.” Check it by asking if there is something in that place when you are putting it there.

 

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.