Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There’s Reasons For This

Did the title of this post stop you or did you slide on past it? Actually, it should have given you pause. That’s because it’s grammatically incorrect. It should have been: There Are Reasons For This. “Reasons” is plural so it needs a plural verb.

Tomorrow, over on The Blood-Red Pencil, I’m blogging about contractions. After I’d already turned in the post, I realized there were a few things (okay, probably a ton of things) I forgot to mention. This slip of using “there’s” when it needed to be “there are” is one of those things that I have to catch myself on. It has become so common in everyday language that it slips into our writing. It’s good to ping on it when you’re editing, break it down into the two words “there is” and see if it still sounds right.

Another problem I catch in a lot of manuscripts is “its” when the author needed to use “it’s”. (Or vice-versa.) “Its” is possessive, as in: Its claws were sharp and long. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” as in: It is very likely that animal is a bear.

If you’re unsure, break down the contractions you use to see if they should or should not be contractions.

Please stop by The Blood-Red Pencil tomorrow (and give me some of your own slips when it comes to contractions).

Tell me, though, do you find these kinds of “simple” errors when you start editing your manuscript?
TweetIt from HubSpot

32 comments:

  1. Always good to be reminded of the elephant traps, Helen! I'll pop over to the Blood Red Pencil for more. My weakness, in full flow, is to write sentences that are far too long! If I don't spot them, Himself, the Critical Reader, reads them out loud to me which makes the point! Ooh, not very good on 'that' and 'which' either!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chris, I love that term "elephant traps." I'm going to remember that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have the same problem as Chris with when to use that or which. With contractions, I've trained myself to separate them out first before using them.
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  4. Helen,

    Sometimes it seems that no one knows its from it's. I often see them used wrong.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds like a great post! I'll check it out.

    Your title did throw me, because I've been so sensitive to it since noticing it's a problem contraction for me. I like your thought to always break it down.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've learned...particularly since becoming a five day per week blogger, how much I don't know about grammar. It's actually pretty embarrassing. But, I'm trying to fix that problem...and, making headway. Still, I could repeat whatever grades this stuff is taught in and probably benefit. There's the naked, baldfaced truth. (Is baldfaced two words?? Bet so.)

    Best Regards, Galen
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

    ReplyDelete
  7. For it's (its) I always check by saying it is in my head otherwise I get it wrong. Thanks Helen will checke out the post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, but "there's" has euphony. "There're" sounds like you're talking around a mouthful of hot pizza.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's true, Mark, "there's" sounds right to our ear (and a lot of times it is right - ahh, there's the rub). "There're" doesn't sound quite so right - it sounds almost as if you're stuttering. So, instead of separating it to "there are lots of rubs when it comes to grammar," we fall back to "there's" in our everyday talk. But in our writing, we should go with what is grammatically correct unless we deliberately have a character speaking in a certain way to show low education or perhaps a certain regional dialect.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'll check out your post tomorrow. I find if I read my reading out loud slowly, I can generally catch *most* of my mistakes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for letting us know about the blog -- what a surprising little gem, Helen.

    Best of luck with your piece, and I'll do my best to stop by tomorrow and take a glance.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I feel like I know these rules so I'm always surprised when I edit my own stuff at how many 'I know better' goofs I have. Obviously, I can use the reinforcement of reminders.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It is always nice to be reminded of the "rules". I slip, especially with all the casual writing of Twitter and blogging, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I find them all the time. My worst:
    your/you're
    hear/here
    its/it's
    who's/whose
    And I often don't type the "y" on they.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ugh. I once dated a writer (BIG mistake) who would stick his nose up at authors who began sentences with And and But. He would carry on about how important it was to write slowly and that it should take an author YEARS to write a novel; otherwise she was doing it wrong. Of course, he'd never written a novel himself. He mostly wrote blogs. But, I swear to you, every time, he'd write it's when it should have been its. He'd actually write our's. It made me want to SCREAM. But I said nothing because he thought he knew it all. You can see why I said dating a writer was a mistake!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Helen, I had to leave a comment because I can so relate to this post. It drives me crazy when I hear people say something like, "Where's your socks?" And I catch myself and correct myself all the time. (argh)

    I deleted my post above because I asked a question and then realized you already answered it in a comment above. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Amy, "where's your socks?" is everyday language. I probably say it, or something similar, every day. We just have to make sure it doesn't overflow into our writing. At least for now, it's not acceptable. Some day... who knows? Grammar rules are not rigid.

    Ahh, Stephanie. Never date a writer. Just kidding! The actual rule is: Never date a boorish writer.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I share your pain. Its or its, who or whom, I or me? Mind boggling sometimes.

    Good thing I have two great editor / proof readers. They're worth every dollar I give them, and worthy of praise in my acknowledgement section of my books.

    Stephen Tremp

    ReplyDelete
  21. My problem is switching from dialog to narrative and back again. Someone pompous might say "There are" but in regular dialog, "There's gotta be lots of reasons," sounds better to my writer's ear.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'll look forward to the BRP post. Contractions and singular/plural consistency is easy to screw up (wink).

    The Old Silly

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Was & were challenge me - I'm not as good with past & present tense as I would like to be!

    L. Diane Wolfe
    www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
    www.spunkonastick.net
    www.thecircleoffriends.net

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Dear Helen,

    I really like what "Anonymous" had to say to you--especially the 'chocolate' part. I didn't translate it because I thought it might be "private". (LOL!)

    Seriously, though, I'll be going over to The Blood-Red Pencil tomorrow to check out your article on contractions.

    See you then,
    ~Cynde
    Cynde's Got The Write Stuff

    ReplyDelete
  27. I hate it, but I may have to put up the squiggly letters for a while. Maybe that will stop the spam.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I shall plan on going over there. Sounds just what I need.

    The mistake I keep making is calling family plural - the family were upset...

    ReplyDelete
  29. Sheila, I think each of us has something that trips us up. But since you know what yours is, you can catch it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is definitely good advice to remember contractions are the combinations of two words - the its and it's gets me every time...sigh


    Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yes, I find contractions a big problem in manuscripts. I sometimes provided mini-grammar lessons with my critiques, plus a list of good books and websites for reference.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...