3 Easy Fixes to Improve Your Writing

in writing •  2 years ago

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I understand that most people hate grammar, but correcting just three simple mistakes will set your writing apart from the vast majority of other writers on Steemit.  You may not think that matters much here.  But, it seems to me that most whales are intelligent people, and making a few easy grammar corrections might go a long way towards standing apart from the crowd.  

Everyone makes mistakes with grammar and writing; that’s not a problem.  Proofreading will usually solve that.  However, the following 3 mistakes are so common in today’s writing that they’re obviously not just caused by carelessness, but by a true lack of understanding.  

This will be really quick and doesn't need to be painful.  So, let's break out the red pen!

1. your/you're

The derangement of your and you're is the most ubiquitous error in my opinion. 

Your is possessive, as in "It’s your book, not mine."  

You're is a contraction of two words - you and are, as in "You're wrong."  

2.  there/their/they're

This triplet confuses many also. 

There has many uses and I won’t discuss all of them here.  In most cases it indicates a place as in “Put the book there, instead of here.”  The important thing to remember is that it is never used in the same way as their or they’re

Their is a possessive adjective and denotes ownership of something as in “This is their book, not our book.”  

They’re is a contraction of two words - they and are.  Break apart the words and it's easy to understand the meaning.  An example is They’re going to the movies with us.” 

3.  its/it's

Finally, there is the confusion between its and it's.  I'll admit that I made this mistake for a long time before realizing it.  

Its is a possessive adjective and it denotes ownership as in, “The cat licked its fur.”  

It's, on the other hand, is a contraction of it and is.  Once the two words are separated the meaning becomes clear.  Example: It’s wise to learn from mistakes.”  


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Another way of looking at all of this might make more sense...

Did you notice that in all three of these sets of homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) there is confusion between a possessive adjective and the contraction of a subject with the verb to be.  For instance:

Poss. Adjective | Subject/Verb contraction
your | you are (you’re)
their | they are (they’re)
its | it is (it’s)

With the exception of there, all of these mix-ups fall into the table above.  So, remembering how possessive adjectives and subject/verb contractions work might be the best way for you to avoid these mistakes.  There must be learned by itself though.  Its usage is completely different than all of the above cases.  It usually indicates location and, most importantly, is never used like their or they’re.

Hope that makes sense and be sure to follow me if you’d like to see more grammar tidbits!


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Great tips for the people that use English as a second language.

I am a guilty offender of its it's! Thanks for the lecture ;)

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I made the same its/it's mistake well into my adulthood. I remember being very surprised when this was pointed out to me in college, because I thought my grammar was impeccable! We can always learn something new. :)

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Scouring my its and it's in tomorrows articles now. I write my posts 2 days in advance as it makes life much easier if I start to slip a day ;)

as an ex-English teacher I like this but as a writer I know that anyone with serious intentions had better commit time to learn the craft. Simple fixes for those who aren't writers are helpful though. BTW, they're actually called possessive pronouns--just sayin' - Good post!

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I fully agree with the need to learn and develop the writing craft. As for the poss. pronouns, I always thought those were words like: mine, yours, theirs, etc. In other words, they're used in place of nouns and poss. adjectives are used to modify or determine nouns. Cheers for the comment!

Thank you for this! :)

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