I love Facebook. As a British ex-pat in New Zealand, I regard Facebook as an essential line of communication with friends on the other side of the world. Writesphere has a Facebook page, and it's fun to interact with colleagues on there. I recognise the relevance of LinkedIn and Twitter for my business, and for my clients too. So look, I do spend a considerable amount of time on social media. But sometimes, for someone as tragically anal as myself, this can be a challenging and torturous experience. And I'm not just referring to Donald Trump's mind-boggling outbursts.
The result? Gibberish.
They shouldn't've used "of"
Must of is nonsensical. As are could of, should of, and would of.
Just think about it for a moment. Please. Of is not a verb You cannot of something.
It should be have, shouldn't it? Not of. Have. Have is a verb. You can have something.
Your vs. You're
I've growled about this before (when I was ranting on about the Oxford comma) and I know you've seen the meme. It's been around for years. The one that says:
Grammar – the difference between knowing your s**t and knowing you're s**t.
But that's not accurate is it? Because if you knew your s**t you wouldn't be using your instead of you're, would you?
Are apostrophes a common enemy?
Must've and you're both feature apostrophes to highlight that they're contractions of their full versions: must have and you are.
Apostrophes certainly can cause confusion, so here are the basic rules.
As well as to show that two (or more) words have been contracted, apostrophes are also used to show possession.
- New Zealand's team won the World Cup
- The women's votes were crucial
- The cats' tails were wagging
Typically in the English language, there are exceptions. Notably its vs. it's. In this case, the apostrophe is only used to show contraction. In other words, when the writer means it is. So, it's just plain its when you're meaning possession.
- It's nearly time for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- DS9 fired its photon torpedoes at the Dominion fleet
Problems with apostrophes don't just crop up on social media of course. Under cover of darkness, Bristol's self-proclaimed Grammar Vigilante uses his specially extended tool (steady now) called an apostrophiser to correct the city's incorrect commercial signage. The BBC filmed him at work.
I worry about this stuff, so that you don't have to
Ultimately, that's what it's all about. As a copywriter and content strategist, I remove this non-productive stress from my clients. And I further promise that none of them - in print or online - will ever be defiant instead of definite. Which brings me back to Autocorrect...