I had no idea Weird Al Yankovic was a grammar cop! Apparently, he feels very strongly about people who commit these so-called "word crimes."

Folks do love their apostrophes! However, just as with commas, there's a time and a place to use them.

I was fortunate in the English department because I grew up in a family of teachers. When I got to college, UL offered an immensely valuable class called "English Syntax" that dealt with sentence structure and the function of words. I'm not a huge fan of literature, but I am a grammar geek. Diagramming sentences was fun for me. (Stop laughing.)

I am as disturbed by the (to be kind) lack of understanding of English grammar as many of my Facebook friends are.

My love of the language began in high school with a teacher who nurtured the seeds planted by my family. She taught us handy tricks that I still use today when I'm writing.

I'd like to share a few of them in the hope that someone, perhaps more than a few, will use them and not commit more grammar crimes.

  • The Apostrophe


    Oh, how I wish people would leave the poor apostrophe alone! Apparently, so does a man who calls himself "The Apostrophiser." He has taken it upon himself to rid the world of errant apostrophes.

    Apostrophes are used for three things:

    • to indicate possession (i.e., girl's, men's, boys', Joe's)
    • create a contraction (they're for they are, it's for it is, aren't for are not, etc.)
    • the ONLY time it's used to create a plural form of anything is for letters or digits ( all a's and b's on her report card)

    Are you simply trying to state that there is more than one of something? Just add an s, not an apostrophe. If you are using the word it, and you cannot substitute the words it is in its place sensibly, don't use an apostrophe. (See what I did there.)

  • There, Their, They're


    Their-- the possessive form of the pronoun they (their car, their school, their dog)

    They're-- a contraction for they are (Can you substitute they are where you are using it?)

    There-- in or at a place (Here? There? Where?)

    Ask yourself when you use the word which of these fits. It's fairly simple. You just have to be aware.

  • Who vs. Whom


    I like this trick because I think it's easy. If you can't figure out which one to use, replace the word with he or him. If he fits, use who. If him fits, use whom.

    It has to do with whether the word is a subject or an object, but I understand that gets confusing.

  • Your vs You're


    Smiley, we have a problem.

    Your is the possessive form of you. (your hair, your house, your car, your teeth)

    You're is a contraction for you are. If you cannot substitute the words you are in the sentence sensibly, don't use the contraction.

    Caution: Make sure you aren't really trying to use the words you are when you use the word your, as in "You're on camera."

  • Too, To, Two


    Too means also or indicates an amount. ("I love you, too." or "Those pants are too big.")

    To is a preposition used to indicate direction, position, or destination. (to the north, to the point, to college)

    Two is the second cardinal number. (2)

    The most common mistake is using to when you should use too. It simply takes thought and practice.

  • Pet Peeves/ Cheat Sheet


    Here's a "cheat sheet." As you can see, it covers some of the items already listed, but it also mentions others that drive grammar police bonkers. Feel free to print them out and use them as you will. They will help you become a better writer and a more well-rounded person.

    Besides, as some clever person on Facebook recently quipped, if you can't win an argument, correct their grammar instead! Gets them every time.

More From Cajun Radio 1290 AM