Don’t Get Too Possessive!

When should you use an apostrophe?

More people overuse apostrophes than underuse them.

Often, I see apostrophes in words that are meant to be plural, but not possessive.

e.g. The photo’s look great.

It should say: The photos look great.

Sometimes  people use apostrophes with pronouns.

e.g.  her’s, it’s, our’s, their’s, who’s, your’s — these are all WRONG if you’re trying to show ownership. They should be written: hers, its, ours, theirs, whose, yours.

Be aware that apostrophes have two separate uses. One is for showing ownership, as in the cat’s whiskers. The other is to show that one or more letters have been taken out (contractions).

Some of the words can be confusing.

e.g. Let’s means let us, but if you meant to say that someone allows you do do something, it should be, “She lets me go to the movies.”  

Who’s means who is, but if you meant to ask who owns something, you would say, “Whose dog it that?”

And the most troublesome of all … it’s or its.

It’s means it is, but if you are attaching ownership, you would say, “The dog should pay attention to its master.”

There was a time when the general rule was to use apostrophes to show possession for people and animals (the dog’s fur, the lady’s hat), but to use “of” for inanimate things (the hood of the jacket, the eye of the needle), but this is now being disregarded in many cases. It seems to me that it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to “the car’s windshield” or “book’s cover.”

One of the most common errors I see is the use of an apostrophe  with decades.

e.g. The  Beetles were popular in the 1960s. There should be NO apostrophe.

But if you shorten the decades to refer to the ’60s. This apostrophe is correct because it shows that something has been left out — in this case,  the 19. Be sure that the apostrophe is turned to face the same direction as a comma (not as at the beginning of a quotation).

Placement: The apostrophe comes after the word that has the ownership. If it is a singular noun, then you would put the apostrophe after that noun. If it is a plural noun, then put the apostrophe after the end of that word.

e.g. This is the dog’s collar.

These are the dogs’ collars.

The use of apostrophes is more complex than one page  can do justice to, but consider this a beginner’s list of basic helpful hints.

Why You Need a Copy Editor

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You start reading a book and are just getting into it when you notice a repeated word. Oh well, you shake your head and continue. On the next page you find the verb “to lie” misused, and you feel irritated. Still, it’s a good story and you want to find out what happens, so you continue. Then you see glaring punctuation mistakes in the dialogue. At this point you begin to wonder if the author knows anything about writing. You had hoped at first that they were just typos,  but repeated errors and misused words (such as “peek” instead of “peak”) now have you wondering if you can stand to read a whole book of this quality no matter how enthralling the plot is.

As an author, I would be embarrassed to publish something like this, but often we can’t see our own mistakes. On re-reading our work, our brain tells us that the words say what we intended. Our eyes gloss over the  errors because, we already know what it says–we think! This is why all authors need a good copy-editor. Our  reputation hinges on publishing good, clean writing.

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Most writers like to feel confident that their written work is free of errors. The truth is that often they are too close to their work to notice the errors that may be there.

Would you submit your work for approval if you knew that rejection was imminent? You can avoid that rejection by hiring me to proofread and edit your work.

What I Can Do for You   

Whether you have written a newspaper or magazine article, children’s book, short story, novel, or a university textbook, I can help you to make that work perfect.

I will read your work, checking for correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, balance in verb tenses, and word usage.  I will verify cross-referenced material and look for any inconsistencies in your work.

I use the Track Changes feature in Word to point out errors. This gives you the option of accepting or rejecting my suggestions without jeopardizing your original work.

If you wish, I can make recommendations for alternate wording to remedy awkward phrasing. If you need help in writing down your ideas, I can do that. I will edit your work unobtrusively.

I am comfortable and competent in editing work that is interspersed with German, French, and Spanish, including bibliographies that may contain foreign titles.

How to Send Me Your Work

You can send me your work as an email attachment, preferably as a Word file.

My Rates 

(US) $.01 per word for complete proofreading and copy-editing, checking for grammar, punctuation, word usage, and inconsistencies. I will do three pages for free so you can see the quality of my work before you decide if you’d like to hire me.

Rates are negotiable depending on the job. Discounts available for greater word counts.

Contact Information 

Anneli Purchase

Email: anneli.purchase33@gmail.com

Qualifications

  • 25 years of teaching
  • 19 years experience with copy-editing, as well as writing and editing novels and articles
  • Have attended creative writing workshops and conferences
  • Have edited university-level books and articles in Ancient History as well as in the Sciences
  • Can translate from German to English and have a good basic knowledge of French and Spanish
  • Will re-write work for you if desired
  • Can suggest changes to improve your writing if that is what you would like
  • Have a keen eye for grammar, word usage, spelling, punctuation and balance in verb tenses
  • References available

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*** Don’t forget to check out my other blog for stories and photos. Anything goes, on “wordsfromanneli.”

http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com