Okay, my lovelies, it’s time for another “episode” of Mind
You’re Your Grammar, from your indulgent “Grammar Nazi”! 🙂
An apostrophe does not plurality – or possessive – make. I addressed this briefly in Mind You’re Grammar, but it needs more emphasis, I think.
I’ve (there it is again – an apostrophe indicating contraction) seen quite a lot of instances where people throw in a random apostrophe when differentiating between singular and plural…especially notice this in my day job.
Example: “Two W/M’s were seen leaving the scene of the crime.” The use of an apostrophe in this case tells me that “two white male’s were seen…” and that makes NO sense whatsoever. There is no possession or contraction in that sentence. It’s the reporter’s way of trying (and failing) to indicate plurality. It should be written: “Two W/Ms were seen…” so when it’s written out long-hand, the phrase will read correctly: “Two white males were seen…”
I understand the mistake – I’ve made it myself, many, many moons ago (Yes, shocking, I know. 😉 ) – we’re uncomfortable with placing an “s” at the end of a word or acronym or number, without sticking an apostrophe between it and the “s”. This is why many people write: “In the 1990’s” (indicates POSSESSION) instead of “In the 1990s” (indicates PLURALIZATION). As if we expect “1990” to be more insulted by pluralization than possession.
Another biggie THAT many authors – NOT just newbies – make, is overuse of the word “that.” Sometimes it fits. Other times, it’s just too much; unnecessary window dressing. And if you’re referring to PEOPLE, please, please, use WHO or WHOM, not THAT. Here are some examples:
“I’m so happy THAT so many newbies make so many mistakes.” (Rachel Thompson used this example in #GravityChat on August 19th when asking my opinion on the use of “that”.) This sentence DOES NOT need “that” – in this case, it’s too much window dressing. It reads better as: “I’m so happy so many newbies make so many mistakes.” (Erm…we could have a case of overused “so” in that sentence. 😉 )
And when referring to people: “They’re the friends that I had dinner with last night.” PEOPLE are “who” or “whom” not “that!” This sentence should read: “They’re the friends with WHOM I had dinner last night.” OR “They’re the friends WHO I had dinner with last night.” Either of these re-phrased sentences is acceptable. 🙂
Here are some additional common mistakes (yes, I’ve made them
to too) to be aware of when your you’re crafting your current or next WIP, blog post, etc.
- We’re – conjunction of “we are”; WE’RE going to be late if we don’t leave now.
- Were – past tense of “are”; WERE you at the party last night?
- Where – a place; WHERE do you want to meet for lunch?
- Then – a point in time; If that’s when you will arrive, THEN that’s when I’ll see you.
- Than – a method of comparison; I’d rather have the salmon THAN the cod.
- Two – the number 2 spelled out; I’ll take TWO of those, please.
- To – indicates motion; We’re going TO the pier.
- Too – also or excessively; That is TOO much information.
Once again, my lovely misspellers, go forth, even BETTER armed for the writing battles ahead!
Your you’re welcome! 🙂