Lynda Harris | July 18, 2017
True confession time: I’m not the ‘everything expert’ at Write. But I am pretty good at spelling. The downside of being a spelling geek is that a few common mistakes bug me — a lot! To be honest, they should bug you too if you want to look credible in print. Yes, text speak aside, in the 2017 business environment, that’s still how it is.
So here are my ‘spot them every time’ spelling mistakes that drive me a little bit crazy. I’ll own up, my phone is full of them — snapped from billboards, sandwich boards, shop signs, café menus, and more. I can’t help it!
These homonyms (words that sound the same) trip people up constantly. Here’s the cheat sheet.
If you see it’s with an apostrophe, it means a letter is missing. You’re looking at a contraction made from two words. If you mean it is or it has, use the apostrophe. If that’s not what you mean, leave the apostrophe out!
Grammar lesson: Its is a possessive pronoun. Its means ‘belonging to it’ — I enjoyed Wellington at its best. I saw its teeth.
The missing letter rule applies here too. They’re means ‘They are’ — They are arriving tomorrow. The apostrophe stands in place of the letter ‘a’ and makes a contraction. If you mean ‘They are’, use the apostrophe. If that’s not what you mean, you need their or there.
Grammar lesson: Use their to show possession — They ate their lunch. Use there to show a place or the existence of something. I put it over there.
If you find these tips a useful refresher (or even a revelation), you can enjoy them and more on the next Grammar Guidelines for Business workshop with superstar Write trainer Colleen Trolove.
And here’s a fun spelling and grammar quiz for a rainy day!