Those who have known me for any length of time know that I rail against the lunacy of Political Correctness, but grammatical correctness is quite another thing. To be grammatically correct is to display understanding of our basic means of communication versus personal ignorance. What’s that rumbling I hear in the distance? People making the same argument for political correctness? Let’s save that for another day!
Lifestory writers are not the only ones who commit grammar infractions. These mistakes are so ubiquitous* that far too many people don’t even realize they are wrong. For the record, here are the guidelines for two of the most common offenders:
It’s/its — It’s is the contraction for it is. “It’s raining outside,” is the same as “It is raining outside.” Its is a third person, nonspecific possessive pronoun. “The tire lost its tread.” The confusion comes in because nouns use ’s to morph into possessive form. “That’s Harry’s book.”
Hints: Pronouns do not use ’s to become possessive: Our, my, his, hers, its. You can make your own hint by asking yourself, Am I trying to say “That’s it is book?” Or, Does it make sense to say “It is raining?”
I/me — Few people make mistakes when the first person singular pronoun is used alone, but when it joins another, chaos reigns, and error prevails. I can accept that “It’s me” has bumped the more correct “It’s I” in common usage, but it’s still not okay to say, “Dad took Jan and I to the zoo.” You wouldn’t say “Dad took I to the zoo.” Anyone knows Dad took me.” On the other hand, few people ever say, “Jan and me are going to the zoo.”
Hints: Remove the extra person and it becomes clear. As in the above example, you wouldn’t say “Dad took I to the zoo.” So put Jan with me and off we go.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal
*Ubiquitous — Being present everywhere at once. [syn: omnipresent] Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University