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

 

Nonessential Phrases, and Subsequently, Commas Setting Them Off Are Often Misused.

4212122_sFor some reason, I’ve been seeing this issue a lot lately–the comma with the word “and.” A basic rule with commas is their use to set off nonessential phrases. Unfortunately, for some reason, people think that a comma always belongs before the word “and.” Note this example:

  • The information is collected and analyzed and will be used to develop resources to strengthen other departments, and ultimately, our ability to work as a cohesive team.

 

Do you see the problem? When you take out the nonessential phrase set off by commas “and ultimately,” the sentence doesn’t make sense:

  • The information is collected and analyzed and will be used to develop resources to strengthen other departments our ability to work as a cohesive team.

 

So in reality “and ultimately” is NOT a nonessential phrase, only “ultimately” is:

  • The information is collected and analyzed and will be used to develop resources to strengthen other departments and our ability to work as a cohesive team.

 

Thus, the commas should be around the word “ultimately” ONLY.

Here is another example:

  • . . . defend and indemnify XYZ Corporation in the Litigation and/or settle the Litigation on XYZ Corporation’s behalf, and if so, whether ABC Corporation breached that contract.

 

Again, if you take out what appears to be the nonessential phrase because it is set off by commas, it doesn’t make sense:

  • . . . defend and indemnify XYZ Corporation in the Litigation and/or settle the Litigation on XYZ Corporation’s behalf whether ABC Corporation breached that contract.

 

So the true intent was to set off “if so” as the nonessential phrase:

  • . . . defend and indemnify XYZ Corporation in the Litigation and/or settle the Litigation on XYZ Corporation’s behalf and whether ABC Corporation breached that contract.

 

The correct use of commas should be:

  • . . . defend and indemnify XYZ Corporation in the Litigation and/or settle the Litigation on XYZ Corporation’s behalf and, if so, whether ABC corporation breached that contract.

 

The best check while proofreading is to read the sentence without the “nonessential” phrase to see if it is truly nonessential. That should be your clue as to whether commas are needed and, if so, where they should be correctly placed.