I have two major grammatical mistakes that have developed more into a habit than lack of knowledge. Of course, we know the difference but we have been doing the same repeatedly that the error has become natural to us. My first big mistake is the use of "it's" and "its". As the title suggests, Popular Word Contraction versus parts of speech, one of the above is a contraction and the other is a part of speech. Several months ago I wrote a hub that had my mistake using it's instead of its and a very good friend emailed me to remind me of the difference.
My other big mistake is forgetting the apostrophe when using some contractions. I will elaborate more on this as I explain further, but first I must define what a contraction is and what parts of speech are.
What is a contraction?
According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, the word contraction is defined as:
"a:the action or process of contracting : the state of being contracted b : the shortening and thickening of a functioning muscle or muscle fiber c : a reduction in business activity or growth. The shortening of a word, syllable, or word group by omission of a sound or letter; also : a form produced by such shortening"
Examples of Contractions and their meanings
- It's – it is
- They're – they are
- I'm – I am
- Don't – do not
- Wouldn't – would not
- You're – you are
- 'cause – because
- Can't – cannot or can not
- o'clock – of the clock
- Didn't – did not
- They're – they are
This list contains just a few of the most popular contractions used in every day writing. I am guilty of using them incorrectly and so are many writers. We have to keep in mind that we aspire to be authors (at least some of us) and we need to make sure our grammar is perfect. A freelancer like myself needs to be able to tell the difference between contractions and parts of speech because work will be rejected by clients for such mistakes.
Parts Of Speech
The University of Ottowa explains parts of speech as defined below:
"Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection. Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used. In fact, the same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in the next."
What I want to focus on are the noun and pronoun.
- A noun is the name given to a person, animal, place or object. Eg. Las Vegas, James, the ball, the horse.
- A pronoun is a word that functions as a noun, like a substitute noun. Usually it is used in the same sentence or paragraph, especially when the noun or subject is already established. Examples are: Its, your(s), their, mine, my, I, her, him. There are different types of pronouns that would need an entire hub to define.
It's a common mistake we make using contractions instead of parts of speech and vice-versa. As I mentioned before, my biggest grammatical error is using the word "it's" in place if "its".
Here are some Parts of Speech commonly used interchangeable with contractions by mistake.
- Your – a possessive pronoun used in reference to second person ownership. Eg. "Your face", "your book", "the book is yours", "your hub is on fire!"
- Its – refers to an object, animal or place, never to a person, and is a pronoun that is usually used in the same sentence or paragraph with a noun, after the subject has already been established, for example, "The cow (noun) banged its (pronoun) head on the fence." Another example would be. "The knife has a unique marking on its handle." You could further state: "The cow……..head on the fence. Its head had a huge gash where it hit the wood."
- Their(s) is another possessive pronoun that many of us misuse. I have seen "there" used in its place many times and I know why. There fits into most parts of speech. Eg. "She is there" is an adverb. "There are many hubs on HP" is a pronoun. "When I get there" is a noun. The word ‘their’ refers to more than one persons and is usually used when those persons are absent. So "their books are still here" tells you that more than one persons have left their books. If those same persons were here then it would be, "Your books are still here".
- There as I mentioned above is a versatile word that can be used in various ways. it changes with every subject it represents. "There is one more bagel on the plate" is used as a pronoun. "They are there now" is used as an adverb. This word is sometimes mistakenly used in place of "their" or "they're".
I just wanted to point out our common misuse of some of these words. I too make this mistake. Thank you for your patience and hope I have helped in some way. I figured since we are growing as writers we need to spend a little more time checking our grammar to make sure we are using the right parts of speech, contractions and tenses.