They’re Not Letting Me Play with Their Toys Over There!

Streamed live on Nov 27, 2012

Ah. The they’re, their and there quandry. I used them all in the title of this post in their proper sense. Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?

They’re

This is a contraction of ‘they are.’ If you think you need to use this in a sentence, you can test it out by replacing it with ‘they are’ to see if it still works.

They’re looking at me.

They are looking at me.

See? You should be able to interchange them easily and the sentence still makes sense.

Their

This is a possessive. The word tells you that whatever you’re talking about belongs to them. Their toys, their car, their vegetables… see?

Their tomatoes were ripe and juicy.

The tomatoes belonged to them, not me. I would certainly buy those tomatoes from them if they are really that good.

There

This word is used to describe placement.

They parked the car over there.

It can also be used with variations of the verb ‘to be’.

There are apples all over the ground.

See? It is paired with ‘are,’ which is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be.’

It really is very simple if you take a moment to think about it when you write. In these types of grammatical cases, it is best to rely on your brain than on spell checkers found in many programs. I often get flags on my writing with these three words in MS Word when I am using them correctly. The program wants me to change it to they’re in most cases, which would not be correct for the sentence I wrote. If ever in doubt, just do this quick little test and you’ll know you used the correct one.


John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.

Tutorial Tuesday – Grammar: Its and It’s

Streamed live on Oct 30, 2012

Tuesday Tutorials…

Helping you with your grammar… one small tutorial at a time!

Rakestraw Book Design
http://rakestrawbookdesign.com/

Okay. You’re writing and suddenly you can’t remember if you need it’s or its. When in doubt, use the apostrophe, right? WRONG. There is a simple way to double check if you’re using the right version.

Its

This is possessive. Unlike most possessive words like Mom’s flowers, Sarah’s jeans or the man’s tie, when you use the possessive of it you don’t use an apostrophe. Why? Because the apostrophe is already being used in the other form… see the next paragraph.

For example: The dog chewed its food carefully instead of gulping.

It’s

This is NOT possessive. This is a contraction of the words ‘it is.’ If you can replace ‘it’s’ in your sentence with ‘it is,’ use the apostrophe.

For example: It’s not my fault the cat escaped when the door was open.

This can also be written: It is not my fault the cat escaped when the door was open.

This is the contraction version, so use the apostrophe.

Is it all clear? This is a simple rule to remember, so there won’t be any trouble figuring out which one to use in the future when you write. Just ask yourself that little question… can I replace it with ‘it is’? If not, you are probably using it as a possessive, which means… all together now…. no apostrophe!

Happy writing!

References:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves Illustrated Edition, by Lynne Truss
The Associated Press Guide To Punctuation, by Rene J. Cappon


John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.

Show vs Tell

Authors get this note all the time. “Show, don’t tell!” But what does it mean? Showing helps the reader feel a part of the scene instead of getting a lot of information dumped on them. Compare these two paragraphs: Joe…

Plagiarism, just whose words are they?

David Amerland, Help My SEO

David Amerland, SEO Expert and Social Media Evangelist and I have talk many time about different topic that all relate to writing, social media and SEO.

The reason we have sat down together for this discussion is because of social media marketing, posting, we have muddy the waters of what constitutes plagiarism. I believe we can agree that taking someone else works and putting our name on it is wrong… that is stealing!

But, does the argument against plagiarism needs to be seriously re-thought in the social media era? Do we own ever word that we text? Is just sharing enough?

Join me and my co-host David Amerland as we discuss whose words are they….


John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.