Grammar-ease: It’s/who’s vs its/whose

Here is a grammar refresher on using it’s/its and who’s/whose.

It’s extremely common to see mistaken use of it’s and its, but this is a simple rule:

It’s is a contraction for “it is” or “it has.” Period. Only use it’s to replace “it is” or “it has.” Its is possessive and means belonging to it.

And similarly:

Who’s is a contraction for “who is” or “who has.” Period. Whose is possessive and means belonging to who.

Those are simple, right?

Other possessive pronouns don’t have apostrophes: theirs, ours, yours, my, his, hers. For instance, we don’t write:                     But we do write:

  • The camping gear is their’s.               The camping gear is theirs.
  • Those kayaks are our’s.                       Those kayaks are ours.
  • That assignment is your’s.                  That assignment is yours.
  • My’s bicycle still looks new.              My bicycle still looks new.
  • His’s car barely runs.                            His car barely runs.
  • Her’s prom dress is gorgeous.           Her prom dress is gorgeous.
  • It’s nest.                                                      Its nest.
  • Who’s gloves are these?                       Whose gloves are these?

See if you can pick the correct answers:

  1. It’s/its time to give the dog it’s/its bath.
  2. Who’s/whose going to drive me to the mall?
  3. It’s/its the most versatile ingredient to work with.
  4. I don’t know who’s/whose dog this is.
  5. It’s/its siding had blown off during the storm.
  6. Who’s/whose cooking dinner?
  7. The truck was missing it’s/its door.
  8. Who’s/whose side are you on?
  9. It’s/its okay to be confused.
  10. An idea who’s/whose time has come.
  11. The tree has lost all it’s/its leaves.

Answers:

  1. It’s / its
  2. Who’s
  3. It’s
  4. whose
  5. Its
  6. Who’s
  7. its
  8. whose
  9. It’s
  10. whose
  11. its

Does this help clarify when to use it’s/who’s and its/whose?

Thank you for the suggestions so far. What other grammar topics would you like help with? Let me know in the comments!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer, editor, journalist, and chocolate lover. She loves working with words and helps businesses with theirs. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on LinkedInBiznikFacebook, and Twitter

Grammar-ease: Then versus than

Last week’s post on the difference between “lay” and “lie” garnered a couple of suggestions for grammar topics, so here’s one: how to know when to use “then” and when to use “than.”

The two words can sound alike when used in conversation, which, I think, leads to most of the confusion.

Do you know which of these 2 sentences is correct?

  • A. You reacted a lot more calmly then I would have.
  • B. You reacted a lot more calmly than I would have.

How about which of these 2 sentences is correct?

  • A. Apples are bigger then grapes.
  • B. Apples are bigger than grapes.

And one more set. Which of these 2 sentences is correct?

  • A. I bought a dress at Macy’s and then went to JC Penney’s for shoes.
  • B. I bought a dress at Macy’s and than went to JC Penney’s for shoes.

Then refers to sequences in time. It tells when something happened.

  • I washed the dishes, and then I dried the dishes, and then I put the dishes away.
  • Finish your homework, then you can go out to play.
  • The kitten tangled himself in the yarn, then jumped in the box.
  • Once upon a time, boy met girl, fell in love, and then lived happily ever after.
  • Until then, let’s stay where we are.

Than is a comparison word.

  • I would rather watch this movie than exercise.
  • Lilacs are more aromatic to me than lilies.
  • Rather than walking on the beach, how about we cycle up the seacoast?
  • Five is more than four.
  • Cats are more independent than dogs.
  • His writing is more formal than mine.

*Here’s a trick if you need a little more help:

When I need to pause to figure out usage as I’m writing, I remember “rather than,” because that turn of phrase sticks in my head and I know ‘than’ is to compare one thing to another. Or the phrase “and then and then and then” which I hear in my mind as a teenage girl’s voice telling me about her day, and it triggers ‘sequence’ for me.

**Or here’s another trick:

“Then” relates to “time” (both have an ‘e’). “Than” is a “comparison” (both have an ‘a’).

Did any of these suggestions help cement the different between then and than for you?

(Answers to the 3 pairings: B, B, A)

What other grammar topics would you like help with? Let me know in the comments!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer, editor, journalist, and chocolate lover. She loves working with words and helps businesses with theirs. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on LinkedInBiznikFacebook, and Twitter

Grammar-ease: Lay versus Lie

I haven’t had a grammar post in a while, so here’s a new one!

A particularly challenging one for many people, the conundrum of lay versus lie. 

Lay is an active verb. A person picks up a book and lays it on a chair. A chicken lays an egg. (The person and chicken are active.)

Lie is a still verb. People lie on beds. Cats lie on people. Fleas lie on cats. (The people, cats, and fleas are still.)

——————————————————————————————————

Lay: to place or set something.

Simple Progressive Perfect Perfect progressive (action continues for a while)
Present I layYou layHe/she/it laysThey lay I am layingYou are layingShe is layingThey are laying I have laidYou have laidShe has laidThey have laid I have been layingYou have been layingShe has been layingThey have been laying
Past I laidYou laidShe laidThey laid I was layingYou were layingShe was layingThey were laying I had laidYou had laidShe had laidThey had laid I had been layingYou had been layingShe had been layingThey had been laying
Future I will layYou will layShe will layThey will lay I will be layingYou will be layingShe will be layingThey will be laying I will have laidYou will have laidShe will have laidThey will have laid I will have been layingYou will have been layingShe will have been layingThey will have been laying

——————————————————————————————-

Lie: to recline or repose somewhere.

Simple Progressive Perfect Perfect progressive (action continues for a while)
Present I lieYou lieHe/she/it liesThey lie I am lyingYou are lyingShe is lyingThey are lying I have lainYou have lainShe has lainThey have lain I have been lyingYou have been lyingShe has been lyingThey have been lying
Past I layYou layShe layThey lay I was lyingYou were lyingShe was lyingThey were lying I had lainYou had lainShe had lainThey had lain I had been lyingYou had been lyingShe had been lyingThey had been lying
Future I will lieYou will lieShe will lieThey will lie I will be lyingYou will be lyingShe will be lyingThey will be lying I will have lainYou will have lainShe will have lainThey will have lain I will have been lyingYou will have been lyingShe will have been lyingThey will have been lying

Here are some great tips to help remember the differences, from Painless Grammar, by Rebecca Elliott, Ph.D.:

  • Think of to lay the same way as to say and to pay. We say (today)  “I pay”, “I say,” (yesterday) “I paid”, “I said,” and “I have paid,” “I have said.” To lay works the same way: lay, laid, laid.
  • Substitute the word place or put. If the sentence sounds right, you want lay; otherwise, you want lie. Is this okay?: You place the book on the table. Yes. Therefore, You lay the book on the table. How about this: You place in your bed at night. No. Therefore, You lie in your bed at night.
  • My favorite: No one ever says that chickens lie eggs. Chickens are active and lay eggs, so visualize the action when you are writing about how you lay out a rug, or lay down your book.
  • Lie is a quiet or still word. A fun ditty from the book: At night, I turn out my light and lie. (I’m going to lie down for a nap.) Whether it’s on a couch, beach blanket, or bed, if you are quietly reclining, you’re lying (not laying).

What do you think? Helpful?

If you have grammar topics you’d like to see covered, please leave a comment to let me know.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer, editor, journalist, and chocolate lover. She loves working with words and helps businesses with theirs. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on LinkedInBiznikFacebook, and Twitter

Some places to find writing jobs

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday if you celebrated it last week, and that you survived shopping if you were brave enough to go out this weekend!

There are so many writing job resources and so many niches, that a comprehensive list is rare. We build our resources based on what we need to have and know. This list is a good start, at least, if you’re in need of some places to start looking for writing opportunities.

  • Dan Case‘s Writing for Dollars – a weekly e-newsletter jammed with legit paying markets
  • Angela Hoy‘s Writers Weekly – resources for writers, including paying markets – and a quarterly 24-hour short story contest that is a lot of fun and offers numerous prizes.
  • WritersMarket.com – related to Writer’s Digest Magazine (which also has job opportunities), this online database has a lot of up-to-date markets. Subscription fee.

PayingWriterJobs– this Yahoo group has its worldwide subscribers posting the job opportunities, it’s a community effort. From the site:

This is a mailing list for PAYING writer and editor jobs. It can be Freelance, Staff, Contract, or Permanent, but must PAY. No work for free or chit-chat allowed. This is primarily a network for writers and editors who are looking for work and editors who are looking for professional writers. This is a moderated list, which means the owner approves of all postings.
  • On Twitter, you can find various job listing folks to follow such as @writersjobs, @writingjobs @writing_jobs, @dnzwritingjobs, @writethismoment, @dnzcontentwrite, @freelanceWJ, @UOPX (University of Pheonix), @AnneWayman
  • Also on Twitter for writers and others: @workfreelancer, freelancejobz4u, @theonlinejobs, @careerbuilder, @AlisonDoyle

Craigslist – Free listings for just about anything you can imagine. But for writers, you can search in your area, or anywhere in the world, under Gigs, Jobs, and Services. It isn’t the best place to find decent writing jobs, but it’s a great place to get new keyword search ideas. Postings that list rates and company names are more trustworthy than anonymous posts that require samples be submitted before payment is discussed.

When looking for writing work, search by area of interest, company you’d love to write for, your location, state/location, editor name, publication name, etc.

You can find writing jobs on LinkedIn, too, by doing keyword searches or even searching by a particular company to see the openings.

The above are some resources I use and think they can get you jump started if you’re looking for writing gigs.

Please add your go-to resources to help our writing community.

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. As Lisa Haselton, she writes fiction, co-blogs about mystery-related writing topics at Pen, Ink, and Crimes, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is a chat moderator at The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

What type of writing do you do?

At networking events, I most often introduce myself as ‘a writer’ or ‘a business writer.’ Both lead to one of two  inevitable questions: ‘What do you write?’, or ‘What kind of writing do you do?’

Then I take a deep breath and try to explain myself in 30 seconds or less, (even typing this, I took a deep breath.) I’m interested and have experience in a lot of different types of writing. For my business, I can write marketing collateral – and that in itself can be an arm-long list of different things from success stories to business profiles to solution profiles and product briefs.

Then there’s ghost blogging for businesses, web content, press releases, content for newsletters, interviews, process guides, and more.

I’ve found that my business card is a great ice breaker, however. My business tagline is “Your Lisa Jackson business cardwords, only better.” And I constantly get a lot of compliments on that phrase. Business folks who are intimidated by writers, especially, smile at that and visibly relax. That’s when they’ll share a bit about their insecurities or concerns with their own writing.

I’m also realizing that if I can find out what type of business the person I’m meeting is involved with before I answer, I can give examples that he or she can relate to.

  • For instance, many businesses have websites that have existed for 5 years or more and never been updated – I can talk about my web copy experience.
  • Or if the person mentions sales letters that have resulted in zero inquiries, I can talk about how I can write marketing and sales pieces that catch attention.
  • Social media scares a lot of business owners – they don’t know how to even approach LinkedIn or Twitter for business. If I know this is what they’re thinking about the most, I can talk about how each has a different goal and therefore the writing has to also be different. I can mention that it isn’t rocket science, but it is a skill, and I’ve been writing professionally for more than 25 years.

Empathy goes a long way, and I love it when someone gets inquisitive about the art of writing. For me, asking questions about their business is natural – I need to know more in order to be able to write for them and keep their ‘voice.’

It’s probably not best to reply to ‘what do you write’ with ‘whatever you need,’ but in most cases, it’s true. I love working with words and helping others express what they need to in their own words, only better.

How do you answer the question, ‘what type of writing do you do?’

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

LinkedIn for Journalists

Back in January, I talked about how LinkedIn is a networking resource for writers.

Today, I’m going to talk specifically about one group for journalists that has a lot to offer if you’re in the journalism field.

The group is aptly called LinkedIn for Journalists. You request to be added, and will only be accepted if the staff can confirm, by reading your profile, that you are a journalist. So, it’s not only critical that you’re already on LinkedIn, but that also you have a comprehensive profile, and some connections.

The 40-minute training is valuable in that it shows you the additional features you’ll have with a premium LinkedIn membership and how those additional features can benefit your writing career. It isn’t a sales pitch, there’s nothing to purchase. By participating in the training, you receive a 1-year free upgrade to premium LinkedIn.

LinkedIn badgesIf you want people who view your profile to know you have a premium account, you can have the ‘in’ badge appear on your profile.

For the training, you use your phone for the audio and you sign in to your profile so you can see what the instructor is explaining. You’ll gain deeper search abilities with an upgraded account meaning you can search all LinkedIn members as a whole, or just in a few groups you belong to, you can search on relationship level to you, seniority level within a company, and so much more.

Think of the power you have to find the resources you need for an article you are researching if you’re able to search on any key word(s) you want and to any drilled down level you need. Here’s a sampling of the type of drilling down you can do to find resources (the categories with the ‘in’ badge are only available to premium members).

The next LinkedIn for Journalists training is October 3 at 1PM EST. You sign up by commenting on the discussion within the group with the headline “the next LinkedIn for Journalists training”.  You’ll receive an email from the LinkedIn staff member who is running the training with all the details you need (and with an offer to share it with your editorial team members). The training is offered at least monthly, so don’t feel like you will miss out if you aren’t ready by Oct 3.

I’m still getting used to the new features, but my favorite is being able to see who has viewed my profile. I get to peek behind the curtain when I see these numbers now, and it’s fun!

LinkedIn Profile Views

 

So, it’s not as though you have to be a journalist to get the premium features, but if you are a journalist, you can be upgraded for free. There may be other opportunities for other categories of LinkedIn members to receive a similar opportunity, but I haven’t come across it yet.

Are you on LinkedIn yet?

 

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She is now enjoying the benefits of a premium LinkedIn membership. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

View detours as challenges, not excuses

Whether you write down your goals, or just know what you need to do each day, life has a way of interrupting sometimes.

Detour Ahead signIt doesn’t matter if it’s writing, career, fitness, financial, or any other category — detours can, and generally do, happen to even the most successful people.

The challenge is to stay focused and see the interruptions and setbacks for what they are – delays – and not as excuses for giving up.

It can be especially difficult when you see your goal ahead to be waylaid by life, but if everything were simple, everyone would be doing it all, right?

Maybe we can’t always move forward as fast as we want, but we can always be determined to reach the goal, no matter what.

Some tips:

  • Keep in mind that the only way to fail is to quit. Honest. If you keep trying, you’re not failing.
  • Life happens – interruptions and setbacks are part of life. Accept this as you do the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
  • View the setbacks as a detour – I see them as orange pylons put in front of me on a straight road – the detour could be short and sweet or long and meandering, but it’s still just a detour.
  • Realize that your endpoint hasn’t moved, you have — adjust course to keep going.
  • Stay focused on your goals and keep working. You’ll get there.

End Detour sign

When life interrupts your plan to reach your goal, how do you react? Do you realize right away that it’s just a detour? Can you get yourself back on course right away?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She does her best to take her own advice when she needs it. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on Facebook or see what she tweets about as @lisajjackson on Twitter.