Grammar Tips by Sunshine
When I see simple grammar errors and typos in fan fiction, it looks sloppy. I dont know if others feel the same way, but if I have to translate an authors meaning as I read, then it starts to feel too much like work. I lose interest pretty quickly after that. If I see errors as I read the description of the story, or in the first few pages, then Ill stop reading altogether, no matter how good a plot the writer may have.
Two of my biggest pet peeves are easy to fix. You dont have to become an expert on grammar, either. The first step is learning how to use apostrophes.
Apostrophes are so useful that we use them in several different ways: to make a word possessive or plural, or to create a contraction. I see a lot of apostrophes where there doesnt need to be one. For instance, in referring to the Weasley family as a group, theyre the Weasleys. An s is added to their name because there is more than one. However, if you want to say that Ron Weasleys hair is red, Weasley requires an apostrophe s because the red hair belongs to Ron (possessive). In The Weasleys house is called the Burrow, Weasley needs an s because the house belongs to all of them. There is no need to add an extra s following the apostrophe.
Its is a word that is commonly misused because it doesnt follow the rules about apostrophes. Its (with an apostrophe) is a great contraction meaning it is. What makes it confusing is that its (without an apostrophe) is possessivereferring to an item belonging to it. If you can remember which form is the contraction, this should help in figuring out the possessive form.
Simple rules for apostrophes
1. A singular word is possessive when it is followed by an s Hermiones book
2. A plural word is possessive when it is followed by an s students books
3. A word whose plural form does not have an s uses an s to make it possessive mens robes
Misuse of Words
My second pet peeve is the misuse of words that look or sound alike. Their/there/theyre, too/to, and your/youre, as well as typos such as of/off are easy mistakes to make while writing, but I feel that they should always be caught during editing.
1. Their is possessive.
2. There indicates a place.
3. Theyre is a contraction meaning they are.
4. Too means also.
5. To is a preposition indicating movement toward.
6. Your is possessive.
7. Youre is a contraction meaning you are.
There are many great books on grammar and writing, but a great reference that I would recommend is Woe is I: The Grammarphobes Guide to Better English in Plain English, by Patricia T. OConner. In particular, it has a great section on words that are often confused or misused by many of us on a regular basis.