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Sunday, 20 January 2019


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For what it's worth, I remember the "its" rule by remembering that the only time one uses the apostrophe is when contracting "it is". If you are not contracting, don't use the apostrophe no matter how much you want to. By the way, Grammarly is a great tool for online writing, especially for those of us prone to senior moments when composing prose.

Why are you editing comments for spelling and punctuation?

[Just the "Featured" comments that are added to the posts. --Mike]

My usual times to be on TOP are early in the morning when I'm having my first cup of coffee or late at night when my family is asleep. Both not the best for coherent thinking and writing. Add to that the iPad's touchpad and not being able to save and edit my comments, and I am often left embarrassed when I see my mistakes in the comments the next day. But I'd rather just try to get my thoughts out in the moment than turn this into a big endeavor. I hope that my thoughts are more useful than my grammar.

If "it's" can be expanded into "it is," then the apostrophe is appropriate. Otherwise, leave it out.

"its" is in the same category as his, hers, theirs. The possessive quality is built-in to the word itself.

For me, it’s easier to remember that “it’s” is short for “it is.” That’s what the apostrophe is for. So unless one means “it is,” use “its.”

Mike, as long time viewer, should you not cover the NYT's (aka the best photography magazine in the world) photographic piece on the Women in the 116th Congress? https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/14/us/politics/women-of-the-116th-congress.html
This piece is significant on so many different levels that it surely deserves even needs comment.
Brandon Scott

If I may contribute to your "pet peeves" section with the opposite of the possessive, I don't understand the knee-jerk use of an apostrophe for plural's. (Ugh, it hurt to write this, and to leave it there, but you see my point.) By extension, the shortened decade? It's the '90s, not the 90's!

(Hopefully, Muphry's law won't apply to this comment.)

Thanks for the interesting lesson. I’m a pedant myself. And it’s time (2019) to update your copyright statement...

“Original contents copyright 2018”

" (no, Mike, the Pet Peeves paragraph is done—don't go their)."
Icee what ewe did there.


My pet peeve was when someone would come to me with a photo question. I preface this with my having taught Photography on the college level for years. I would gladly answer their question, only to sometimes have them tell me that they didn't like my answer... in which case they told me that they should have asked a "professional" photographer.

"We have the best readers and commenters on the Internet in my biased opinion." Indeed. This is your achievement. You have managed to create a site that is intensely personal and at the same time deeply absorbing of the general movements in the photographic world. One important element of this integrative process is your highly personal approach to the comment section, where a rich stream of contributions gets filtered through your personal editing and responding. A unique approach of forging a community of participants, and highly effective; I am not aware of other sites that do it in quite this way. Labour-intensive for you, no doubt, but the depth and authenticity of the debate on your site depend on it.

Ceterum censeo ..., as your lucky readers we owe it to you and your enterprise to make a financial contribution as well. I am glad that your pieces now all end with the modest little "Harsh Reality" link to your Patreon subscription site.

And then there’s the idiot savant: autocorrect . Just when you think you’ve proofread a comment....another path to embarrassment.

> possessive its gets no apostrophe

The corollary to that is that "it's" means only it is or it was.


'..no, Mike, the Pet Peeves paragraph is done—don't go *there..'

Add to your peeves 'I could care less if ...', when the writer means 'I couldn't care less if ...'; 'unchartered waters' when the writer means 'uncharted waters'; 'pry' when the writer means 'prise'; and 'hone in on' when the writer means 'home in on'. Oh, and 'discreet' when the writer means 'discrete' - and vice versa.

I feel better now.

And, "possessive its gets no apostrophe."

Guilty as charged. And as corrected by Our Humble Editor on articles I've written for TOP.

I think this is an easy mistake to make as its one of the (many) contradictions of the English language, as other possesives do use apostrophes:, e.g.: Ray's Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, or: Brian's Ducati Desmosedici

(Yes, those are actually my friends, and yes, they actually own those vehicles. Bastards! 😉)

Airing of peeves: Among the most annoying rules of the English language are 1) that possessive “its” doesn’t get an apostrophe and, 2) apostrophes are allowed and often expected on plural letters of the alphabet, as in “mind your P’s and Q’s.”

[I can tell you why I do that. It was because of the Nikon N8008s and the F4s. How do you pluralize those without apostrophes? Two N8008ss, two F4ss? Is N8008s (which was a model number) one N8008s or more than one N8008 (which was the original model)? That's why I instituted the renegade apostrophe at the magazine I edited. Still follow the rule today. Imagine if your P was an A and your Q was an I and you can see how it would be problem there too. --Mike the Ed.]

You have listed some of the things which annoy me on the internet - loose for lose and superfluous apostrophes.

And then you used that silly phrase 'My bad'. How can you own an adjective?!!

My pet peeve.do not start a sentence with a preposition eg and or but,bad grammar.

Recently several of my Facebook friends—all college graduates—have started using I’s when they mean my. Anyone else have this experience?

Lay and lie.

I am always amazed by those people who manage to lay on the ground; a chicken, perhaps, but people?

I heard it again this morning on Sky News, where this woman was talking about finding herself laying on the ground; of course, it is a commercial television station, so perhaps understandable. I'm sure the BBC might do better, but one never knows. Probably explains the Brexit mess, what with all these lying layabouts...

Excellent work. Now, how about switching to smart/curly quotes and apostophes, instead of inch and foot marks?

My pet peeve: people who don't know the difference between the verb forms of lead vs led.

Oh my, yes. Not to mention "there" vs "their" vs "they're".

I am currently spending a lot of time on a car forum and I can tell you that if someone spells "brake" as "break" one more time I shall scream. Or "pedal" as "peddle".

I won't ask you where you stand on the Oxford comma though. I might split my infinitives laughing ;-)

What about the Oxford Comma?


No comment.

My pet peeve, besides superfluous commas, is hearing news reports of wildfires "fueled" by high winds.

Fires need fuel, heat, and oxygen. Hey, news people! Wind provides LOTS of oxygen. How about "fanned" by high winds?

Since I'm this far off topic, hey Mike, how much snow did the weekend storm dump on the lakes? And, isn't this cold breathtaking?

My computer keeps adding apostrophes where they don't belong. I suspect in time this digital intimidation will change common use to make an apostrophe in a possessive acceptable.
Perhaps this is just English evolving. You can't get through a day without hearing "like I said" in place of "as I said" or "hopefully" when it should be "it is hoped" and yet we still soldier on.
I suppose you have to draw a line somewhere. If the dictionary folks decide that "irregardless" is a word then I'm out. From that point on I'm just going to speak Esperanto you can all deal with it, nobody listens to me anyway.
Mia svelajo estas plena de montetoj!

Your ‘Harsh reality’ link goes to the ‘Posts’ tab rather than the ‘Overview’ tab, which would be better I think.

My biggest problem with your comments section is that when you publish a partial comment often the full comment is not published below, like mine in your last post, and I have seen it happen often before with others.

[I did mess up on your latest comment somehow, for which I apologize (fixed now), but generally whenever there's a partial comment featured, the full comment is published in the Comments section. --Mike]

Two brief tips about camera bags from a guy who's bought far too many: (a) If you want a small bag for travel use, buy (only!) the type that confines all storage to a single in-line row. A bag of equivalent size and weight that's designed to accommodate stuff in adjacent front/back positions (i.e. as if in two rows) won't hang in the same "body hugging" manner. And (b) to (permanently) affix your own initials to the outside front of the bag, use a Brother "P-touch" label, and bond it to the surface using a clear slow-curing epoxy (e.g. Devcon's "2 Ton" clear). Apply (use a toothpick) a thin layer of such epoxy over the entire surface of the label and around its perimeter, where the edge meets the fabric. Let it cure (face up) for 24 hours.
Bryan Geyer

"We're" for "were", "you're" for "your", "their" for "there" (and "they're" for "their"), "who's" for "whose"; the list goes on and on.
And also "could of" instead of "could have".
These errors are so frequent they're becoming the norm.

My pet peeve is the use of moot point, meaning the subject is closed/ decided, while its primary definition is, open to discussion.

I, being a compulsive Grammar Nazi, go crazy over the use of the words "setup" and "set up." "Setup" is a noun, as in "Hey, have you seen Mike's new stereo setup?" "Set up" is a verb, as in "Hey, Mike, would you like me to help you set up your new stereo?" Of course, I could go on about many other transgressions (your vs. you're), but I'm probably preaching to the choir...

oh the they're / their was intentional.. -_-
of course.

completely went over my head.

my bad

one instinctively responds. it does grate my teeth whenever i see it

I learned something interesting from this article: apparently, I generally use punctuation like an American, while I most often use British spelling conventions. I was actually taught spelling and punctuation this way. Being Canadian can be confusing, at times.

Shouldn't it be "Well said, sir."? (Missing comma)


Regarding punctuation inside brackets and inverted commas, it depends whether you are ending the sentence inside or out.

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