In college my Mom used to send back my letters with the punctuation and grammar corrected. She took her red ink teacher pen and circled inaccuracies and spelled out any misspelled words. About once a week, when I received a new letter from her, my last one to her would be tucked in. I never thought this was odd as she was a grammar nazi and well it was just Mother.
Woo whee she must be rolling her eyes now. Sorry Mom. I'm letting everyone know you taught me better.
A reminder then:
Your vs. You’re
This one drove her insane, so I don’t make this mistake too often.
“Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your cat” or “your blog.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re showing how dumb you are by using your when you really mean you are.”
It’s vs. Its
This used to drive her bonkers too and she would always say it’s easily avoided by thinking through what it is you’re trying to say.
“It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “this blog has lost its charm.” An easy rule of thumb—repeat your sentence out loud using “it is” instead. If that sounds weird, “its” is likely the correct choice.
There vs. Their
“There” is used many ways, often as a reference to a place (“let’s go there”) or as a pronoun (“there is no Halloween candy left”). “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their bags” or “their opinions.” Do the “that’s ours!” test—are you talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, “their” will get you there.
Affect vs. Effect
Ld is always hollering to me from his computer on this one. Candy, which one do I use?
“Affect” is a verb, as in “Your ability to study will affect your grades immensely.” “Effect” is a noun, as in “The effect of a parent’s education on a child’s future is well documented.” By thinking in terms of “the effect,” you can usually sort out which is which, because you can’t stick a “the” in front of a verb. While some people do use “effect” as a verb (“a strategy to effect a settlement”), it’s usually found in legalese, so ignore, real people don’t write like that.
The Dangling Participle
Whenever I made this error I could count on my mother writing in the margin “try to be more clear, dear”
Ha! Your opening phrase should always modify what immediately follows. If it doesn’t, you’ve left the participle dangling, and will confuse your readers.
I think the reason why I have poor grammatical and punctuational discipline is because I am lazy and relied so much on my mother. I could always count on her to know the rules. Lame excuses, I know.
And I am the worst at periods. They always go within quotation marks. Which means I need to seriously comb over this blog and correct all my inconsistencies on that score.
Sheesh, Mother. If the rules of heaven allow you to read my blog, perhaps you could leave any needed corrections in the comment section, eh?
Until then, I'll have to consult this:
Wait here’s more: