Forgive me, gentle readers, but I’m about to go medieval on your collective derrieres. Every day, you see online that which makes me cringe. Every day, one more business owner or professional communicates to the online world, “I can’t be bothered opening up a print or online dictionary when drafting my current blog post/e-newsletter/online article.”
You meet someone at a networking event, have a fabulous conversation, take their business card home in your sweaty, hand sanitizer-free mitts, access their website in anticipation of a second impression to match your first impression, but then there it is, a major faux pas in plain sight. What is it that frays the fragile gossamer thread inside my brain? What is the grammatical sound and fury that takes hold of me and burns like fire ant pincers? I’ll tell you what it is – it is it’s, its, you’re and your!
For the love of all that is pure and proper in this world, do yourself a favor and use these tiny, tiny words correctly. I will make it easy for you to do so right here, right now:
- The word “it’s” is a contraction. According to my trusty Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate (Tenth Edition), a contraction is: “…a shortening of a word, syllable, or word group by omission of a sound or letter.” In this particular case, “it’s” represents the two words “it is” and also, “it has.” So instead of saying, “It is a low-down, dirty shame my virtual snowman has frostbite,” you can just say, “It’s a low-down, dirty shame…” Whenever you mean to say “it is” or “it has” but want to economize your usage, you can just say “it’s.”
- The word “its” without the apostrophe is generally used to indicate a possessive tense or state of being: My dog chased its tail like a whirling dervish. The child flew its kite all day without a care in the world. The last piece of snozzberry-rhubarb pie was eaten by its proud creator. Think of your own silly example; “its” is not, and never will be, a substitute for “it is.”
- The word “you’re” is another handy contraction, representing the words “you are.” This is not a possessive word. From time to time it may be an angry (birds!) word, but most definitely not possessive! If someone writes that you’re a fragrant summer flower in a field of scentless winter wheat, just smile and send a thank you. If someone else writes that you’re eyes are like limpid pools of cleaning fluid, before you redirect that person’s email to your spam/junk filter, reply that they are grammatically incorrect…
- The word “your” is generally used to indicate a possessive tense or state of being: When driving north on Conundrum Road, the turn for Puzzlement Place will be on your right. Your shoes are absolutely darling, darling. Do you mind if we dance with your dates (if you know this movie quote, please comment)? See how easy grammar can be?
When next you draft an email or online marketing effort, please remember that spell check won’t always be a reliable friend regarding contractions versus possessive words. When in doubt, proofread to ensure proper word usage. You are quite welcome; it is always a pleasure to help…