Friday, March 24, 2017

One Common Writing Mistake You're Probably Making Right Now

When I was in elementary school I loved grammar. Really. Loved it. Weird right? For a class assignment, I proudly wore a button that said, "How's Your Grammar?" In Grade 4, I enjoyed underlining nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs on the chalkboard. I was a shy kid - didn't like to talk in class - but I did love to read and write. I would still rather write than talk.

I went on to study English and then Journalism in university. For one class, all we did was write leads for fake news stories - over and over again. The professor would read aloud the ones he liked and brutally rip others apart. Mine fell into both categories. Either way, I loved that process too. I miss it actually, because, two decades on, I don't remember all the grammatical rules so much. Yes, I'm a writer and some rules I just know without being able to explain them, but there are a few I'm sure I've forgotten too.

Long story short, I thought I would share with you in a little blog series a few common grammatical and spelling mistakes that I see each and every day. My first choice was painfully obvious. I see this error so often - in emails, on websites and even immortalized in print. What is it? It's "its" versus "it's."

Adding apostrophe s to a word makes it possessive, right? Not so fast

We have been taught that adding apostrophe s to a word makes it singular possessive. Absolutely correct. Mary has a lovely vegan handbag. That is Mary's purse. But there are exceptions. The pronoun "it" is one of them.

It's easy if you remember this tip

If you remember one thing, remember this - it's means it is. Period. Full stop. (Okay, it can stand for it has, but less frequently.) If "it is" or "it has" doesn't fit into what you are writing, the word you are looking for is its. Its is the possessive form in this case.

Correct uses of its vs. it's:

The dog pulled free of its leash.
It's going to be a great weekend. ie. It is going to be a great weekend.

Don't feel bad if you have been making this mistake. I have seen all kinds of people do it - even one of my bosses who went to journalism school. Of course, sometimes we know the rules but we make mistakes inadvertently, especially when we are texting and emailing throughout most of our busy days (autocorrect can be a nightmare, huh?).

But try not to make this mistake online (in your blog posts and websites) or in print. (I have seen it in online bios of people offering public relations and writing services. Not good.)

Remember, it's stands for it is!

Let me know if you find this type of post helpful. You might just give me cause to explore my love of grammar once again!

Updated to add: By the way, there is no its'. Never. Just don't do it!

Read on for another common writing mistake

Hint: Your fireplace isn't wearing a mantle! 


  1. Hi Joann,

    This is great information. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us.

    1. Thanks Gabriela! I hope it's (haha, used that word unintentionally) helpful to people!

  2. Excellent information! It's pinning time see what I did there? ;)

    1. Haha Laurie! You're awesome! Yes, you've demonstrated the lesson perfectly. :) xo Jo

  3. The other I see commonly is the misspelling of a lot as alot.

    Then there's the use of irregardless versus regardless.

    1. Yes!!! I see people write "alot" all the time, "irregardless" of the fact that it's wrong, haha!!! Thanks John.

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