Language is an evolving entity and the meanings of words change. However, use of punctuation and grammar also changes the meaning of what you are trying to say in a big way. Today, we will discuss a few common errors.
#1: The Apostrophe.
Do you know the difference between “who’s” and “whose?” How about “it’s” and “its?” The difference is that one is a contraction, and is used to mark an omission, and the latter shows possession. Who’s and it’s are both contractions: two words that have been shortened through the use of an apostrophe where letters have been removed. “Who’s” is short for “who is” whereas “it’s” is short for “it is.” On the other hand, “whose” and “its” show possession. For example, “Whose bicycle is this?”
However, showing possession can also be done with an apostrophe. For instance, if you wanted to write the sentence “Dan is the owner of that bicycle” using a possessive apostrophe, you could write, “That is Dan’s bicycle.”
One instance in which an apostrophe is not needed, but people often use it, is within pluralization. The sentence, “That is way too many Volkswagen’s,” is incorrect. This sentence indicates that a Volkswagen possesses something. The correct way to write that sentence is by simply adding an s to the word Volkswagen, making it multiple Volkswagens. I.e., “That is way too many Volkswagens.”
#2: The Comma.
The comma can be a tricky thing. However, it is easiest to think of it as something that separates parts of a sentence. In addressing an individual, use a comma to separate the person’s name within that sentence. Here’s an excellent illustration of this idea:
Another use of the comma can be to separate items in a list of things. Here’s an excellent illustration of this notion:
These are not the only ways that commas can be utilized, but they are two of the most common ways in which their misuse dramatically alters the meaning of a sentence. If you still don’t believe that punctuation matters, consider this anecdote:
Words, punctuation, & context are all extremely powerful things. Take an extra moment to choose them wisely. Please. Still not convinced? Read this statement – it should be cringeworthy enough to make you reconsider.