Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grammar Tip #2: Its vs. It’s

This is another one of my pet peeves. As more and more people rely on spell checkers instead of editors, this type of mistake is becoming commonplace.

It can be confusing, but it really is quite simple.  Here is the basic rule:

Use it’s (with an apostrophe) when you mean it is or it has.  In this case, the word it’s is a contraction, like isn’t or won’t.

It’s a beautiful day.
I like this movie because it’s funny.
It's been a long winter.

Use its (without an apostrophe) when you mean belonging to it.  In this case, the word its is a pronoun (possessive pronoun to be exact), like the word his or her.

The cat licked its fur.
Nebraska is known for its friendly people.
Hard work has its rewards.

If it helps, you can ask yourself this question: Can I substitute his or her for its in the sentence (even though it may not quite make sense).

For instance, although it doesn't totally make sense, you could say
The cat licked her fur.
Nebraska is known for his friendly people.
Hard work has her rewards.

But it would be ridiculous to say:
His a beautiful day.
I like this movie because her funny.
His been a long winter.

The usage of its can be especially confusing because if you were to use the noun instead of its, you would use an apostrophe: “the cat’s fur,” “Nebraska’s friendly people,” “hard work’s rewards.”  But think again of the words his and her, or other possessive pronouns: my, your, our, their. None of them use an apostrophe.  Because its is a possessive pronoun, it does not have an apostrophe either.

Grammar Tip #1: Everyday vs. Every Day

The incorrect use of everyday as one word has become one of my pet peeves.  I see it in print all the time.  Because a spellchecker doesn’t know how the word is used, it accepts everyday as one word all the time.  This simple rule will help you determine when to use everyday as one word and when to use two words: every day.

Use one word when everyday is used an adjective, that is, when it comes right before a noun and answers the question, “What kind?”

These are my everyday shoes.
Running into people I know is an everyday happening for me.
Let’s use the everyday tablecloth.

Use two words when every day is used as an adverb, that is, when it answers the question, “how often?” It often comes after the verb, but it can come at the beginning of a sentence too.

I walk to work every day.
Take this vitamin every day.
Every day we have this same conversation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Poem about November

Few poets want to write about November.  It’s just not the stuff of poetry.  So I decided to write one myself.  I’ve become a fan of blank verse lately, so that is the style I chose. Its 14 lines will remind you of a sonnet as well.


November days are not the stuff of poems.
The chilling rain from dreary cloudy skies,
Too late for farmers to be glad it’s there,
Not cold enough to snow, so what’s the use?

The reds and yellows that we all admired
Have given way to brown and barren boughs
And endless piles of leaves to put in bags
And line the streets to wait for garbage trucks.

In recent years November has become
The month to write that novel long neglected.
Nothing else to do but stay inside
And wait for snow and coming Christmas joys.

The month seems like a comma or a dash
That serves no purpose but to slow us down.

Review of Eerie Erie by Robin S. Swope a.k.a. the Paranormal Pastor

I had no idea that Erie, Pennsylvania, is the home of haunted places, UFO sightings, historical mysteries and strange creatures. Pastor Robin Swope has become an expert in all things paranormal, and has developed quite a following on his blog, The Paranormal Pastor. His book is well researched and well written. I was especially intrigued by the stories of the thunderbird, as I was not familiar with this legend. The first part of the book moves a little slowly, but be patient; it gets better. Unlike his first book,True Tales of the Unexplained, Eerie Erie has no typos or errors (that I noticed) and reads like a book, not a series of blog posts.

You can see the books I've read so far (starting in 2011) here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review of Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin

This book relates the true stories of five exorcisms performed in the 70s. The stories are told in a fictional format with lots of detail. It's a fast read, but I had to stop halfway through and take a break, since the incidents were disturbing and a bit vulgar at times. In addition to detailing the history of the possessed and how they opened their hearts to the demonic, the book gives the history of each of the priests who did the exorcisms.  It's chilling, but the good wins out in the end, though not without a struggle.

You can see the books I've read so far (starting in 2011) here.