I am talking about a little word. It’s its.
As an editor, the misuse of it’s is the most common error I come across. And I can say without hesitation that an apostrophe in the wrong context is a catastrophe. It tells me that you don’t know your craft.
“What was the time?” (Reported speech is comprised of sentences beginning with phrases using verbs such as wonder, consider, ask, etc. I wondered what the time was. I considered what the alternatives were.)
And now for jargon. Technically, jargon is not always incorrect. However, it is always annoying. Avoid jargon unless it’s used in satire, or you’ve got quotes around it.
IMPACT IS NOT A VERB. Yes, I know you’ve seen it a million times, and at this point it is even listed as a verb in the dictionary. But I eliminate it from every piece of writing that crosses my desk. It may be in common use, but it is evil.
And now, a story to demonstrate my point
A while ago, I took a seminar in grant writing. I was the director of a nonprofit at the time, and knowing how to write a grant was essential to the future of my organization. The leader of the seminar asked the group if we knew how grantors made their decisions. We replied, “On the merits of our projects.” (Like writers, nonprofits are under the illusion that good work counts.) She immediately set us straight.
“They hold up the first page of each application to the light,” she said. “If they see Wite-Out [this was in the age of typewriters], they throw the entire application away. They repeat that process, going through each page, until they get a pile of perfectly written applications. Those are the ones they read.”