- HubPages Tutorials and Community»
- Improving Your Article
Common Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
Don't Rely On Your Spell-Checker
Its not very hard too spot the mistake’s in this first sentence of this hub or in it’s title, is it?
You’d think my spell-checker would have picked them all up, yet it would be quite happy for me to publish this as a title:
Sum Common Spelling and Punctuations Mistakes You Shooed Never Make
There is not a red or green wavy line in sight!
Word’s opinion of the first sentence is equally intriguing. It has underlined one word in green to indicate a grammar mistake. (See screen shot below.)
Yes, it has correctly identified it’s as wrong, but the first word: Its is equally wrong, and the grammar checker also ignored too and mistake’s.
The sentence should read:
It’s not very hard to spot the mistakes in this first sentence of this hub or in its title, is it?
Actually, the grammar checker does worse than ignore that first Its – when I made the correction, it wanted me to change it back! And how I wish I could tell you this tale of cyber incompetence ends there, but the sad truth it there is more!
Originally I started the sentence differently. See the screenshot below:
In this version the grammar checker indicated the same mistake as in the version above. I corrected it – and then a wavy green line appeared beneath the first its! (See screen shot below.)
So when it’s was wrong then its was right, but when its was right then its was wrong!
If your head is now spinning, you will be pleased to hear there’s actually a very easy way to remember when to use it’s or its.(People really are more intelligent than computers, because we can learn this but my grammar checker never will.)
Easy After All
An apostrophe is used in two ways only:
1) to show that a part of a word is missing
2) with a NOUN to indicate possession
If you bear this in mind it’s easy to see that using it’s instead of it is requires an apostrophe, but it might be harder to remember why you shouldn’t use it’s to say something belongs to it.
It is not a noun, but a pronoun.
Pronouns are words used to replace nouns, and include: he, she, they, you and I. You don’t say he’s book, she’s pencil or they’s pens. And you don’t say it’s cover. Don’t trust your computer to pick up those mistakes either: mine has underlined they’s in red for a spelling mistake, and after changing its mind a few times it has settled on letting me know that it’s cover is a grammar error. (The correction it suggests for they’s is they’d – now you guessed that didn’t you? Nope? Me neither.)
I’m fairly certain most people know the correct usage is of course: his book, her pencil, their pens, and now that you realise that, it’s easy to see that the correct usage is also its cover. If you are still in any doubt, notice that in the paragraph above what the computer thinks I’ve written is: he is book, she is pencil or they is pens. That means if you write it’s cover what you are saying is: it is cover.
If You’d Like to Learn More and Have Fun Doing So
A witty and fun look at some common punctuation mistakes, and how their mis-use can lead to hilarity and confusion. Lynne Truss also writes about the history of punctuation in an informative and amusing way.
The children’s version of Lynne Truss’s popular book on punctuation is as much fun and as informative as the adult version.
A very useful reference book on punctuation, grammar and style.
Even if you say: “the pencil is hers” you would not include an apostrophe and neither would you if it turned out the pencil was not hers but its. (I’m beginning to see why English might not be the easiest language to learn.)
Now I’ve got that off my chest – but not of my chest – here are a few more common mistakes that commonly drive me crazy.
Gentlemen, if your wife turns out to be a loose woman you may lose her, but you will never loose her nor can she be lose. And ladies, you may well lose your patience with me for writing such a sexist sentence, but it seemed the easiest way to show the difference between loose and lose. Loose is an adjective that means the opposite of tight; lose is a verb that means to part with or come to be without. So you cannot ever loose something though you could loosen it or lose it. For instance, one of those gentlemen previously mentioned, when drowning his sorrows after discovering his wife’s infidelity, could loosen his tie and then later lose it because he’d loosened up too much.
Many years ago I used to be an art teacher. Pupils frequently handed in essays containing such grammatical delights as could of, would of, should of. This would, of course, have been perfectly acceptable if used in the way I just have, but could’ve, should’ve, would’ve must’ve confused as many people over the years as its and it’s.
Still, those essays came in handy when I changed career; I used memories of them to create a scene in my first novel where the main character – an art teacher – finds it hard to know how to mark some essays about Van Gogh. This is what she’s up against:
Van Goff was a syco. He painted chairs. Naebody wants to look at chairs. He couldn’t even paint proply. He didn’t blend his colours and he must of been colour blind because he painted his face green.
And just in case anyone is wondering: could’ve, should’ve, would’ve are contractions for could have, should have … paid more attention to grammar at school. Would have if the teacher had made it more interesting!
Dedication and Homage
This Hub is dedicated to and inspired by a comment I recently read, saying that “we must get our work to it’s best before publishing it”. Please do feel free to point out all my grammar and spelling mistakes – I’ve laid myself open to that by writing this Hub!
I pay homage to Hubber Mark Ewbie, whose illustrations inspired me to flex my rusty artistic muscles.