I apologize in advance for getting up on my soapbox about this, but I really have to rant for a second because I see this all of the time in blogs and also in my very favorite alternative weekly, The Weekly Dig, which I respect tremendously but have gotten on the case of regarding their occasional lenience toward typographical errors. (I've offered to proofread every article for free, but they haven't taken me up on it).
I know that some of you may have been victims of a less-than-stellar school system where your teachers just didn't know any better and taught you wrong, or maybe you just didn't listen, but there are two very simple grammatical rules that many, many intelligent (perhaps brilliant, and certainly talented) writers make every day:
1. Its vs. It's:
Somewhat surprisingly, the staffer at the Dig with the best grasp on this concept is an Art person, Taylor Seidler. He (she? I know Taylors of both genders but I'm thinking guy?) seems to get it. (Hello, copyeditrix Cox? Canhazyourjobplz? Willdoforfreez.) The rule is that "its" as a possessive is treated the same way as his and hers. His/Hers/Its. No apostrophe, EVER. Would you put an apostrophe in "hers"? Horrors, no, right? "Her's?" Ew. That's a grocer's apostrophe (apple's, 59 cents/lb!). So... why would you put one in "its"? Well, it is because "it's" as a conjunction of "it is" does exist in the written language (although, truth be told, if you're writing formally, you shouldn't be contracting anyway. [Blogs are not formal.])
Please, for the love of the language, learn the difference. Think to yourself "could I put 'it is' here? If not, why the hell am I using an apostrophe? Do I want my readers to suddenly doubt my otherwise credible voice (or cringe)?"
2. My brother and I went to the store vs. This is a picture of my brother and me:
Simple rule, again. Take the other person out. Would you ever say "this is a picture of I"? No. You'd sound like an idiot. So please don't say "this is my dog and I" either. It's "my dog and me." I know you were over-taught never to say "me" by your mother, and yes, "my friends and I went to the store" is correct, but you need to realize when "me" is appropriate, which is actually quite frequently. Example: "If you have any questions, come see Colleen or me." Never I.
The issue is not that you can't (obviously) get your point across without perfect grammar, it's that your content is distracted from by errors. People aren't going to focus on your wonderful prose if they can't get past the horrible lurching sensation in their bellies when they encounter this kind of error. And we do exist, oh boy, do we exist- "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" was a major best-seller, don't forget.
Thanks to my friend Sam, fellow violist and co-author of the astoundingly intelligent music blog minnesotaorchestra.org/insidetheclassics/ for this additional, helpful link: 10 Words You Should Stop Misspelling.
End rant. Thanks for your time and I hope this was helpful and more amusing and edifying than terribly didactic.