November 24, 2014
Today I want to talk about the first of the “Top 10 Punctuation and Grammar Mistakes” that I see people making all over the place. Hands down, the most common mistake I see is people using it’s for its, and vice versa.
The issue is counterintuitive in American English, since most possessives are formed with an apostrophe.
It’s = it is or it has
It’s is the contraction of it is or it has.
Its = the possessive of it.
Sometimes the only way I can remember something is to say: it’s the opposite of what I think it should be. This is one of those instances.
Whether its a classic Snickerdoodle cookie or a retro Blueberry Lemonade scone, there’s sure to be a sweet treat for you!
With 100% of respondents claiming there was a desire for greater alignment between Sales and Marketing its clear the industry has a problem maintaining harmony between these two teams.
It’s such a basic mistake that every time I publish a manuscript I do a search for “its” and “it’s,” and check and double-check.
It’s such a basic mistake that I’m going to name it the #1 punctuation mistake in my hit parade. It’s a new year, so let’s all try to be more careful with it’s and it!
1. If you don’t mind getting kicked around now and then and love data-driven hard core info, then you’re going to become a fan of ConversionXL.
The problems with this sentence stem from the “data-driven hard core” adjectives. First, one compound adjective—data-driven—is hyphenated, but both should be hyphenated because they are in front of the noun (info) that they modify. Second, these are coordinate adjectives, and so need a comma between them: data-driven, hard-core. To determine whether adjectives are coordinate, follow this two-step rule:
1. Can you place and between the two adjectives and still have the sentence make sense?
2. Can you switch the order of the adjectives and still have the sentence make sense?
If you answer yes to both questions, you’ve got to place a comma between the adjectives.
Corrected, the sentence reads: If you don’t mind getting kicked around now and then and love data-driven, hard-core info, then you’re going to become a fan of ConversionXL.
2. But the truth is, LinkedIn can be extremely powerful – – especially when you’re aware of all the little hidden tricks that don’t get nearly enough exposure as they deserve.
Two hyphens do not equal a dash. A dash is formed by turning on the Number Lock, holding down Alt, and using the number keys to the far right in this order: 0 1 5 1. Plus, no spaces before or after a dash.
But the truth is, LinkedIn can be extremely powerful—especially when you’re aware of all the little hidden tricks that don’t get nearly enough exposure as they deserve.
3. “We were really taken by this story of a mild-mannered guy who was quietly revolutionizing his field.” he said.
That’s a period after field, and you need a comma.
4. “That has it’s place as well – – it’s very very valuable content, but it’s not for us.”
This is a very ugly sentence, with no fewer than four editing mistakes. First off, this writer has used two types of quotation marks. Then, he or she has fallen afoul of the it’s versus its mistake. Those are two hyphens (with spaces) instead of a dash. And, finally, you must put a comma between repeated adjectives.
Corrected, the sentence reads: “That has its place as well—it’s very, very valuable content, but it’s not for us.”
5. I have an endless wonder for finding new ways to tell stories and capture people’s imaginations.
You have an “endless wonder”? Oh, boy. You can’t have an “endless wonder.” You could have an “endless thirst” or an “endless enthusiasm,” but, sorry, no “endless wonder.” Please try again.
6. Your leads and customers are comprised of multiple buyer personas, personalities, and interests – – so why should your website just have a single message?
There are two mistakes in this sentence. First, comprised of is incorrect: a group of smaller things comprise a larger thing; a larger thing is composed of a group of smaller things. Second, two hyphens don’t equal a dash. Only a dash is a dash. Make a dash by turning your Number Lock function on and pressing ALT 0 1 5 1.
Corrected, the sentence reads: Your leads and customers are composed of multiple buyer personas, personalities, and interests—why should your website just have a single message?
7. It drives me nuts when a media advisory or press release capitalizes every worth that the writer thinks is important.
Yeah, well, it drives me nuts when writers don’t edit their sentences. It’s word, not worth.
8. Personalize based on where a visitor is in their buying process, so your loyal customers experience a different website than first-time visitors.
What you have here is very sloppy English. A visitor is singular; their is a plural pronoun. You have two choices here. You can either write “his or her” with “a visitor,” or you can write “visitors are” with “their.”
The noun dictates the sentence, and the pronoun and the verb must agree with the noun.