Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

October 2, 2013

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Ammunition to guard against the 'language police'

Here are some grammar rules that can confuse.

You’ve probably noticed on Facebook (and perhaps other sites) that the "language police" are on duty.

One post says, “Irony is when someone writes ‘Your an idiot.’”

Another cites the lack of a comma in important places, using as an example, “Let’s eat Grandma.”

If you could not care less (notice that it’s not just "care less") about communicating properly, move along. If you do care, stick around. A few minutes with some common language errors, along with a few expressions that can be confusing, might be beneficial.

Affect and effect trouble people. Generally, affect is the verb, effect is the noun. “The weather did not affect the game.” “The weather had a significant effect on the game.” Effect can be used as a verb, as in bring about change.

Apostrophes can be rascals. Here are some basics.

Pronouns — his, hers, its, ours, theirs — do not require apostrophes. Most possessive situations need an apostrophe. The basic rule for forming the possessive involves a prepositional phrase. For example: The car of the woman. The woman's car.

Apostrophes are needed to show possession for these pronouns: everyone (everyone's), anyone, somebody.

A common mistake is using an apostrophe to make words plural, which is rarely correct.

For example, the plural for Jones is Joneses, not Jones's. The possessive for the Joneses would be Joneses' (you can add an s after the apostrophe if you wish).

Redundancy is a common writing error, such as “completely destroyed.” Destroyed means something has been wiped out completely, not partially. If a house burns to the ground, don’t write: “Fire completely destroyed the house.”

When it comes to driving offenses involving alcohol, it’s “drunken driving” — not “drunk driving” — to describe the charge. The adjective “drunken” is needed to depict the driving.

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