In Education

By Stephen Sheehan

  1. Their vs. there vs. they’re

For editors like Katy Koontz, the confusion over their vs. they’re vs. there is one of her biggest pet peeves. Homonyms [each of two or more words having the same pronunciation or spelling but different meanings and origins] tend to give people trouble, but there is a way to avoid sending your editor into a tizzy.

“They’re” is a contraction for “they are.” Only use “their” for showing possession. That just leaves regular old “there”, which can be used as an adverb, a pronoun, or a noun indicating a state or condition.

  1. Unnecessary use of quotation marks

Koontz readily admits that she corrects grammar mistakes on signs in public places. One of the most common mistakes she sees is the overuse of quotation marks.

So what’s wrong with the practice? Well, in many cases, people use quotation marks for emphasis instead of underlining or italicizing a word.

  1. Everyday vs. every day

Every day we make everyday mistakes. That’s the correct utilization of the two terms that send editors over the edge.

“Everyday” is a compound word that is used as an adjective to describe something that occurs daily or on a typical basis. The other form indicates “each day.”

  1. Your vs. you’re

While Koontz acknowledged that your vs. you’re is a common mixup, it’s also one that gives editors a ton of frustration.

The simple way to remember which version to use is that “you’re” is a contraction for “you are.” You should only use “your” when you need to show possession.

You’re too smart to let your mind mess this one up!

  1. The chaotic use of commas

No punctuation mark gets thrown around as carelessly as the comma. In fact, let Koontz tell you how it makes her feel.

“What annoys me the most with this is when people insert a comma between the subject and the verb. Those pandas, are so cute. Just no.”

We’re with you, editor-in-chief!

  1. Alright vs. all right

Even the iPhone used to get this grammar rule wrong.

While you will find “alright” in the dictionary, it’s best to stick with the more formal version of the phrase.

  1. That vs. who

This mistake shows up often in writing and everyday speech.

You need to utilize “who” whenever you are talking about a person. Reserve “that” for objects.

  1. It’s vs. its

Koontz offers a useful tip for remembering the difference between “it’s” and “its.”

“Its” is the possessive form, while the other version is a contract for “it is.” Just sound it out in a sentence to make sure it’s correct before you turn in your next paper.

  1. Apostrophe violations

Writers simply use apostrophes where they don’t belong.

Editors get frustrated when they see them getting thrown in places they shouldn’t be. Remember that apostrophes indicate possession; they don’t make a word plural.

  1. And a ‘nother thing

Not every contraction is correct.

While many people like to shorten “another” to ‘nother, that is bound to send an editor over the edge.

  1. I vs. me

Some people still struggle to decide whether to use “I” or “me.”

Never begin a sentence with me. No: Me and Joe are going fishing. Yes: Joe and I are going fishing.

Me always follows a preposition.  He threw the ball at [to, with, by, etc.] me.

Is there a grammar mistake that you catch yourself making over and over again?

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