Grammar Giggle – Alcohol Consumption May Make You Use The Wrong “You’re”

A friend sent this to me. They got it correct in one place, but not in another on the same sign. Perhaps they were out of the letter “e” or perhaps they just weren’t paying attention. In this sign, both should be “you’re,” the contraction for “you are.”

Grammar Giggle – Hot Mess Memories

My brother sent this to me from a local newspaper remembering a drive-in theatre in Mesa. “It’s” is one of those words that does not follow the normal possession rules. The only time to use “it’s” is as a contraction of “it is.” If “it” owns something, it is simply “its.”

Plus, if you are talking about decades, they got it right the second time–the last two numerals of the decade, no apostrophe, and “s.” You wouldn’t spell it out once and then use numerals once.

Finally, “til” isn’t a word. It should be “until.” However, Merriam Webster and the Urban Dictionary disagree and say that “’til” is a contraction for “until,” but not in formal writing. That means that even though this wouldn’t be considered “formal” writing, this example is still incorrect since there is no apostrophe to indicate the “un” is missing.

Grammar Giggle – Hopin’

I saw this sign in a local store. I’m pretty sure they mean “hoppin'” because (a) there’s a bunny and (b) the bunny is one of the symbols of Easter and bunnies who hop go “hopping.” They at least did include the apostrophe to indicate the missing “g,” but what a difference the second “p” makes.



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.”




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.


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 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 . . ..”



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.