writing pitfalls

writing pitfalls - Seana Shiffrin Some writing pitfalls to...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Seana Shiffrin Some writing pitfalls to avoid: a non-comprehensive guide Before handing your paper in, check to ensure that you have not committed any of these errors. If you have encountered these problems in the past, it would be a good idea to search for the commonly misused words and make certain you have used them properly. 1. Confusion of ‘it’s’ and ‘its’: ‘It’s’ and ‘its’ are two entirely different words. ‘It’s’ means it is. It is a contraction of two different words. (It is a very spare sentence on its own that contains a subject and a verb.) ‘Its’ is not a contraction of a subject and a verb; rather it is the possessive form of ‘it’. ‘Its’ is more like ‘his,’ ‘her,’ and ‘their.’ Example #1: “It’s all over” means it is all over, that is, it is finished or complete. “Its all over” does not really mean anything and is an improper use of English. Example #2: “The pantry is empty. Its shelves are bare.” This pair of sentences uses ‘its’ properly to signal the possessive of the shelves. “The pantry is empty. It’s shelves are bare.” The second sentence contains an error. Consider: "It is shelves are bare." That’s nonsense! ‘Its’ and not ‘it’s’ would be the proper word to use in this context. Example #3: In the prior two examples, only one word could be used in the sentence properly. But that will not always be true. Sometimes either word may be used, but the word you use will alter the meaning. A. “We shall serve no wine before its time.” B. “We shall serve no wine before it’s time.” These sentences have different meanings. A. suggests that the wine will not be served before it has aged properly, that is, before the time that is right for its proper appreciation. B. suggests that the wine will not be served before the proper hour. Beg as you might, cocktail hour does not start before 5 p.m. and the wine will not be served at 4:30. 1
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
A related matter: ‘who’s’ and ‘whose’ : Like ‘it’s’, the apostrophe in ‘who’s’ indicates a contraction, not a possessive. “Who’s on first” means who is on first. ‘Whose’ is the possessive of ‘who.’ “Whose umbrella is dripping in the foyer?” uses ‘whose’ properly. 2. The confusion of ‘cannot’ and ‘can not’ ‘Cannot’ and ‘can not’ are not identical. They have different meanings. ‘Cannot’ means is not able to, while ‘can not’ means is able not to. Example #1 “I cannot meet you at the airport at four o’clock” means that I am unable to meet you at the airport at four o’clock. Perhaps this is because I have an appointment at the dentist at 3 p.m. in Los Feliz or because I am holding office hours from 3:30 to 5:30. “I can not meet you at the airport at four o’clock” means that it would be possible for me to fail
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 05/04/2008 for the course PHIL 156 taught by Professor Shiffrin during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

Page1 / 9

writing pitfalls - Seana Shiffrin Some writing pitfalls to...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online