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Remembering Jane

Two years ago, I had the sad duty to inform our readers that Jane Straus had passed away on February 25, 2011, after a two-year battle with brain cancer. Jane was the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation; founder of the GrammarBook.com website; and creator of the free, weekly E-Newsletter. She was a visionary and we miss her greatly.

Even though Jane’s Blue Book was a highly regarded reference book available for sale in bookstores and on the internet, she insisted that all of the rules and examples, as well as practice quizzes, be available on the website for anyone who desired to improve his or her grammar and punctuation skills. She started the Grammar Blog section of the website where she answered every question posed by readers. And, she hoped that the grammar tips contained in each E-Newsletter would help people improve their grammar by focusing on just one specific topic each week.

At this time of remembrance, I want to reaffirm my commitment to continuing Jane’s legacy by maintaining the website; issuing weekly E-Newsletters (sometimes containing classic grammar tips authored by Jane and at other times with new grammar tips often inspired by your suggestions); and answering your questions in, as much as possible, the same light, direct, and instructive tone that Jane used.

In Jane’s honor, we are running today what is likely the first grammar tip Jane authored, “Its vs. It’s.” Jane chose this tip to welcome new subscribers. So, you have all seen this one before, some of you more recently than others. And, you will also see that I have added a short note at the end that I hope will help you remember the rule and understand how it came to be.

- Lester Kaufman, Jane’s husband and partner for 25 years

Its vs. It's

Would you like to know the #1 Grammar Error?
Hint: The word involved is small and it’s contained in this sentence.

That’s right: its vs. it’s
Yet the two rules are actually quite easy to remember.

Rule 1: When you mean it is or it has, use an apostrophe.

It’s a nice day.
It’s your right to refuse the invitation.
It’s been great getting to know you.

Rule 2: When you are using its as a possessive, don’t use the apostrophe.

The cat hurt its paw.
The furniture store celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Note: From what I understand, the possessive was also written it’s until a couple hundred years ago. While I don’t know for certain, it is possible that the apostrophe was dropped in order to parallel other possessive personal pronouns such as hers, theirs, yours, ours, etc.”

Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com's "Grammar Blog."

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and Punctuation
by Jane Straus

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Why the English language is hard to learn:

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.

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