The English language is extremely complicated. As writers, we all have to work with the complexities within the English language. Since people judge you on the way you write, you want your first impression to wow them, not turn them away. So, making sure you are aware some two very common English mistakes, will go a long way toward your writing making a good impression on your readers.
- Its and It's
This is probably one of the most common mistakes made by writers, and unfortunately, it is counter-intuitive. There is only one time you use the apostrophe in its and that is when it is a contraction for it is or it has. "It's (it is) for John that the bell tolls" or "It's (it has) been so long since I’ve heard the bell toll for John."
Its, without the apostrophe, is a possessive pronoun, meaning belonging to. "The bird drank from its water” and never has an apostrophe (although most people want to put one in).
The counter intuitiveness of the its without the apostrophe is because when you normally use a possessive noun, you use an apostrophe. "The bird’s water was dry". Because of the use of an apostrophe in a possessive noun, writers tend to automatically insert the apostrophe when they are replacing the noun with the "it" pronoun. However, "It's water was dry" is incorrect and should correctly read "Its water was dry."
- i.e., and e.g.,
i.e., and e.g., two Latin abbreviations which mean different things are not interchangeable. They should be used in the appropriate manner.
e.g., (in Latin, "exempli gratia") means "for example" and you would use it when you want to give examples. "Her grocery list included several types of dairy products, e.g., (for example) milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt.
i.e., (in Latin "id est") on the other hand, stands for "that is" and basically means, "in other words". "All dairy products, i.e., (in other words) milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt, have high levels of calcium".
(Additional tip: you always use lower case letters for both i.e., and e.g., even if they are at the beginning of a sentence. Also, you should always include a period between the letters, followed by a comma.)
If you catch these errors, your work will be cleaner, correctly reflecting your professionalism and will help form a good first impression on your readers.