If you went to grade school in Ellwood City…

So many posts begin, “If you grew up in Ellwood City…”

That’s my hometown, an hour’s drive northwest of Pittsburgh.

When I read these posts, I see blunders of grammar that I can only hope are the result of poor typing rather than poor education.  Our grammar-school teachers in Ellwood City were diligent in teaching the rules.  But I’m afraid one of the things so many kids don’t grasp in grammar school is–grammar.

I could name names of those making the blunders.   I went to school with some of you.  But as Mark Twain wrote, “Let us draw the curtain of courtesy” over them rather than cause embarrassment.

But here is a much-needed refresher course:

1.  “to” vs. “too.”

“To” doesn’t mean “also.”

It’s not “Me, to.”

It’s “Me, too.”

2.   “I should of done that.”

People write this way because they don’t read enough.  They write the way they hear the language being spoken:  “I should of…”

It goes:  “I should have…”

3.  The misplaced apostrophe

People seem to think an apostrophe (‘) is needed, but aren’t sure where to put it.

“The Steeler’s don’t have a defensive secondary.”

True–they lack a good defensive secondary.  Also true–this sentence lacks good grammar.

The apostrophe signals (like a fumble recovery) “possession.”

“LeVeon Bell injured his ankle.  The Steeler’s injury is not serious.”  That’s singular–possession by one person.

“The Steelers’ win over the Bengals was crucial for making the playoffs.”  That’s plural–possession by more than one person.

The apostrophe also is placed where a letter is missing.

“I do not like the Ravens.”  “I don’t like the Ravens.”

The apostrophe is not needed if something is simply plural:

Not:  “The Steeler’s don’t have a defensive secondary.”

It’s:  “The Steelers don’t have a defensive secondary.”

4.  their  vs. they’re

Their means “It belongs to them.  It’s their ball.”

They’re means “they are…”

They’re good.  It’s because of their coach.”

5.  An apostrophe is not needed when writing about members of an entire family:

“Merry Christmas from the Smiths.”  Not:  “Merry Christmas from the Smith’s.”

“Merry Christmas from the Jones family.”    Or “Merry Christmas from the Joneses.”

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