Beware of non-words

Grammar Cop has cited writers in the past for using words that aren’t words. Irregardless is one. Reoccur is another. Neither is a real word, but writers use them instead of regardless and recur. 

Here’s another. Unthaw. The word is  thaw.  Unthaw isn’t a real word, but if it were it would be a synonym for freeze. 

Watch out for those pesky non-words. When in doubt, check a reliable dictionary. 

It’s Unprofessional

It’s a little thing, but it disturbs me. Why why why can’t otherwise educated people spell the possessive form of it correctly? THERE IS NO APOSTROPHE! This morning, I received an emailed health bulletin to which I subscribe touting the benefits of a particular mineral. When I reached the last paragraphs, I read:
it’s amazing benefits…

It’s a little thing, but it isn’t a typo. It’s a spelling error. Why send out professional letters or print promotional material if you can’t spell correctly? It makes the issuer appear unprofessional. The fact that many readers accept or ignore the spelling error is particularly disturbing.

Grammar Cop is citing this offender. I now worry what other areas of the company’s output is sloppy or suspect. Before you comment that Grammar Cop is a nut job, please know that this isn’t the first offense for this publication. Everyone is entitled to a second chance, but I’ve seen it repeatedly.

ITS is the possessive form. IT’S is a contraction.

End of rant.

Dangling Participles?

Writers, do your editors red-mark you for dangling participles? Or do you have a grammar cop critique partner who cites you for a dangler? Have no fear. Grammar Cop is here.

First, know what is meant by participle. A participle is a verb behaving as an adjective…sort of. For example, in the sentence Sensing that she was stressed, I kept my mouth shut, the phrase Sensing that she was stressed modifies the pronoun and serves as an adjective. Yet the phrase also reveals the “why” of the subject’s behavior, serving as an adverb. Regardless of the participle’s label, it modifies the subject of the sentence. That’s crucial for writers to remember when self-editing.

The trouble arises when the participle doesn’t modify the subject. It’s left dangling. For example, Sensing she was stressed, a hush fell over the room.  Seems absurd, right? The room can’t sense her feelings of stress. The people in the room might, if the writer is using third-person omniscient point of view.

My pet peeve is the participle growing up. Be careful or you might commit a gaffe like Growing up, my parents didn’t know where our next meal would come from. or Growing up, there was no remote control for the television. Growing up is a dangling participle in either example. The subject of the sentence is not modified by the participle.

Participles are useful when applied correctly. Just don’t let yours dangle.

It’s not that difficult!

Grammar Cop has been on hiatus, but now she’s back and on a familiar rant. Apostrophes! Stop using apostrophes incorrectly. It isn’t that difficult. 

Do NOT use apostrophes for pronoun possessives: hers, his, yours, ours, theirs, its. 

Do NOT use apostrophes (except in cases of acronyms) for plural: ATMs or ATM’s 

It’s is a contraction of it and is. Its is the possessive of it. It’s not that difficult!

Rant over.

March 4th for Grammar!

It’s that time of year again, National Grammar Day. This year I’m pleased to share a feature from the wonderful folks at Grammarly.

Celebrities are notorious for butchering the English language, often comically like the late Yogi Berra. But not all celebrities are guilty of grammar offenses. Which celebrities are the most grammar-conscious in their Tweets?  

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Finally, take their grammar quiz to discover your celebrity grammar buddy. 

Celebrate the day, and march forth on March fourth for grammar!