Monday, December 16, 2013

The Grammar Police





Ever feel like you are a one person Grammar Police squad? I do, and when that feeling strikes, I use Grammarly for online proofreading because it provides the backup I need.

Apostrophes, for example, can be problematic. Using them for contractions is a given, but there are those tricky spots we run into and wonder...do I use an apostrophe....or not? Here's a peek at the cheat sheet I use:


Use an apostrophe:

  • To form a plural of a letter: I got all A's and B's.
  • To form a plural of a number or symbol: 6's or %'s
  • When a word is discussed as a word: The sentence contains too many hey's and dude's.
  • To abbreviate a year: She graduated in '03.


Special possessive situations must be handled with care. Remember that the owner is the word immediately before the apostrophe. It helps to ask, is it possessive or plural, or is it possessive and singular, or possessive and plural?


Use the apostrophe like so:

  • Singular versus plural possession: the horse's trainer, the horses' trainer
  • Compound word possessives: editor in chief's office, sister in law's birthday
  • Plural compound word possessives: brothers in law's cars (more than one brother in law)
  • For an indefinite pronoun: anyone's guess, everybody's favorite
  • Individual possession: Micah's, Allie's, and Nat's books (they each own their own book)
  • Shared possession: Tim, David, and Becky's book (they all own the same book)
    
And don't forget:
 
  • Do not use an apostrophe for possessive pronouns: its, yours, ours, his, hers, their


Ever tried Grammarly or use a writing guide to get you out of an apostrophe jam? What helps keep your writing in check?

I'm taking a break and will be back on January 2. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season! :)

Happy writing,
Karen



Photo credit: Stock Exchange

36 comments :

  1. I usually don't have a problem with proper use of apostrophes BUT I do with proper uses of commas. I either use too many or too few :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Use it wrong and the apostrophe police will come after you!
    Have a wonderful Christmas, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I struggle with my grammar, but I have a loving wife who corrects me.
    Have yourself a Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Karen .. those ABCs seem odd to me .. and I'm not sure about the 6s and 6%s .. I'm not sure if we have the same conventions over here ... but when my time comes I sure hope I got most of my grammar right .. but it will be guess work on my part - I really need some grammar lessons ...

    Thanks for the tips and have a happy and merry Christmas .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've never tried Grammarly, but man, apostrophe's can be tricky! Maybe I'll have to check it out. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Never tried it, but this could be a very valuable resource. Thanks!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Keith,
    Yeah, commas get me too sometimes. And a handful of other grammar items too! Lol. :)

    Alex,
    Yes, exactly right! We absolutely do not want that on our permanent record! :)

    David,
    It's nice that your wife has got your back! :) What a blessing!

    Hilary,
    You know, it could be different for you across the pond! I hadn't thought about that. :) I'd say your posts look fine in the grammar department. :)

    Janet,
    Grammarly has some interesting features. I've found it helpful. I agree, apostrophes can be tricky! :)

    Sarah,
    I encourage you to try it if you get a chance! Let me know what you think. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Karen! I especially liked your last rule about possessive pronouns. Thank you for telling us about Grammarly. Another good resource from you! I also liked Elements of Style. That book helped me a lot.

    Happy Tuesday!
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
  9. Very helpful! I constantly need to look up certain rules. Luckily, I have internalized a few over the years, but some still stump me. The A's, 6's and 1900's one is always tricky for me, so thanks for clarifying. I know I have looked it up countless times! I have a printout near my computer of the rules I tend to forget the most and I also keep a grammar guide on my desk as well. :)

    Enjoy your break with your family! Happy Holidays!
    Jess

    ReplyDelete
  10. Never used that site but I'll certainly bookmark it now. Thanks for the tips. Merry Christmas! Enjoy your hiatus!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ceil,
    Elements of Style is one of my favorites too. As a matter of fact, the cheat sheet got much of its info from it! :)

    Jess,
    I too, keep certain books at my fingertips to check apostrophes and other items. Teaching teens writing keeps me on my toes and I have to make sure I am right when correcting them! :)

    Lisa,
    I use it and it has been helpful in pointing out various issues. Glad we have such great resources available!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for the tips. I will check out Grammerly. Enjoy your break. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooops, I misspelled the name of the website. I'll go stand in the corner.

      Delete
    2. LOL Cecelia! I think you are excused since it is December and I'm sure you have much on your mind. Blessings to you and your family!

      Delete
  13. These are great tips, Karen. I like when they're formatted as a quick reference guide. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good stuff! And thanks for the website tip. You're the go-to person for resources, that's for sure.

    Waving and smiling,

    Rhonda

    ReplyDelete
  15. Susan,
    Thank you! A quick guide like this always helps me too. :) Best wishes with your blog tour!

    Rhonda,
    You are welcome. Hope you can give it a try. It's been helpful for me. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kind of makes my head spin sometimes to get it all straight. Thanks for this, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good reminder. Those apostrophes can cause me trouble sometimes. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for the succinct lesson! I live in Bishop's Stortford and it kills me whenever the apostrophe is always left out! Have a lovely lovely lovely Christmas break and New Year! Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  19. Susan S.,
    I know it, me too! I look things up often just to make sure. Grammarly helps too. :)

    Mare,
    Hope it is helpful. One of these days we'll get it all down! :)

    Kitty,
    I hate seeing typos for things like that too. Our local newspaper is the worst. I don't understand why spell check doesn't catch more of their typos. Oh well. :)

    Happy New Year,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  20. A blessed Christmas to you as well, Karen!
    I haven't tried Grammarly yet, but have been hearing a lot about it recently. Thanks for the apostrophe tips!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for the tip and the site link!
    Merry Christmas, friend!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ruth,
    You are welcome. Let me know what you think of Grammarly, okay?

    Tyrean,
    You are very welcome! Enjoy your gang this week!

    Blessings,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  23. Happy holidays!

    I thought these were only for British English:
    To form a plural of a letter: I got all A's and B's.
    To form a plural of a number or symbol: 6's or %'s

    ReplyDelete
  24. Theresa,
    Thank you! Hope your week is going well. :) You know, all the guides I have (including The Elements of Style) state that this is the way to handle them. Since I wrote this, though, I did see in an online copyediting guide where they were not used. So I'm thinking it depends on who/what you are writing for.
    Happy New Year,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for the site recommendation, Karen! I've heard of this site before, but never stopped by. I'll give it a whirl now.

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. xo

    ReplyDelete
  26. Karen, good reminders. I always seem to forget the A's an B's rule.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Janette,
    You are welcome! You'll have to let me know how you like it. :) Blessings to you and your gang.

    Jean,
    Me too, I looked it up not long ago, actually. :)

    Happy New Year,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  28. This sounds like a really valuable resource.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. I copied and pasted your notes amigo. (You're so smart!) I have used Grammarly before. It is a good resource. But I found a mistake or two over there too. I think it's kinda like Word (only not near as bad).

    ReplyDelete
  30. Gina,
    It can be a help, I'm thinking. I'm all for any good tools for the writer!:) Thanks for coming by!

    Robyn,
    You are so sweet! My cheat sheet has bailed me out of many jams. lol I know what you mean - these tools are great but don't always know exactly what we're thinking and how it should translate to print. :) It keeps us on our toes, doesn't it?

    Happy New Year,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  31. Fantastic reminders. I'm usually pretty good with apostrophes.

    Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Great reminders! Thanks for this post.

    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I HIRE AN EDITOR! LOL. Yeah, it's great to bear in mind all the rules, but sometimes our finite brains can only crunch so much information at once. Thank goodness for other sets of eyes!

    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Medeia,
    Thank you. I am too, but I get the number thing mixed up sometimes. Hence the cheat sheet. lol :)

    Nas,
    You are welcome! I need all the help I can get most days, and am happy to pass it along. :)

    Crystal,
    Smart girl! I think that is a wise move. :) So thankful for others and great resources to help us out.

    Happy New Year,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!