Friday, February 6, 2009

Report Writing: Lesson One

Get ready for a thoroughly boring series! Yes, that's right folks, it's grammar time! I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence, but if the advertising of 2009 is any indication, there is a serious Grammar Gap. Mystery shopping companies tend to hire editors with good language skills, so if you want good grades on your assignments, perhaps a quick brush-up is in order. Let's start with my favorite.

The apostrophe: Probably the most misused character these days, the apostrophe is used in two cases: to take the place of a missing letter as in "don't" for do not; and to show ownership as in "Becky's shoe"—the shoe belonging to Becky. Let us examine possession first.

WRONG: Piano's Repaired Here, Orange's 4 for $1, —There's no ownership or letters missing, this is a simple case of more than one thing, and should have no apostrophe.

In the case of a word ending in "s", very often you will see the apostrophe after the "s" to form a plural. So if you have more than one pencil, and they all have points, you would say pencils' points.

WRONG: Pencils's points. Pencilss points. Pencilses points.

Its or it's? In the case of posession, use "its." An easy way to remember this rule is to compare the object to "his." If the lamp were a guy, you would say "his shade," not "hi's shade," right? So using "it" would become "its shade" not "it's shade."

Okay, that's enough for today. Go forth and look for examples and you'll be amazed at how many are confused by such a small mark!

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