It’s National Grammar Day – no, really.

The right word. One common problem seems to be using the wrong (but very similar) word, especially when we use them as metaphors. For example:

  • Lose means you misplace something; loose means it’s not tight.
  • Lightening means becoming lighter; lightning is what goes with thunder.
  • Hone means sharpen; home means where you live. You hone in on the main question.
  • Reign is the period of a monarch’s rule; rein is what keeps horses from going off course. You rein in a quarrelsome committee member.
  • Bait is what you catch fish with; bate means lessen. In a stressful situation, you might speak with bated breath.

That pesky apostrophe. It’s responsible for all kinds of goofs. Memorize this rule:. An apostrophe stands for a missing letter or letters. “It’s” is a casual rendering of “it is,” and  “you’re” means “you are.”  I’m astonished at how often I see this wrong in published books.

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