Their or they’re? It’s or its? Comma or no comma? Even the most experienced writers can get tripped up.
In the grand scheme of things, one misplaced apostrophe may not ruin a great story, but it can certainly distract readers from your great story. You’ve put the time into writing your book, so you should put in the extra effort to make sure you’re putting the best version of your book in front of readers’ eyes. Use this quick guide to these often-confused word choices.
A recent reader poll on the popular site Grammar Girl named the “your vs. you’re” mix-up the most egregious grammar sin. So be sure you don’t make it:
Your vs. You’re
Your—possessive, singular or plural
Sarah, please pick up your toys.
Children, please pick up your toys.
You’re—contraction for “you are,” singular or plural
You’re the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
You’re the most fantastic musicians I have ever heard.
Their vs. There vs. They’re
Their—Possessive, plural, third person
Marla and Ted were so happy that their daughter won the spelling bee.
There—Indicates location or place
I have heard that Greece is beautiful, but I have never been there.
There is a sad song playing on the radio.
They’re—a contraction meaning “they are”
Both contestants have worked so hard that they’re both deserving of a win.
Putting it all together:
They’re planning to pick up their luggage once they arrive there.
It’s vs. Its
Its—Don’t let the absence of an apostrophe fool you; its is the possessive form of the genderless pronoun
The tree lost all of its leaves yesterday.
It’s—a contraction for “it is”
Please let me know when it’s time to leave.