Saturday, August 27, 2016

You’re going to love your English lesson for today

You know what absolutely drives me bananas? People who don’t know when to use “your” and when to use “you’re.” Look at this sentence:

You’re going to need your coat.

“You’re” is a contraction for “you are.” “Your” is a possessive, like an adjective. In the sentence above, “your” modifies “coat.” They are NOT interchangeable!

Likewise, check out this sentence:

Would you go to the store and buy two tomatoes and a head of lettuce, too?

“To” is a preposition. It modifies “go,’ in this case. “Two” is a number, i.e. 2. “Too” is an adverb meaning the same thing as “also.” They are also NOT INTERCHANGEABLE!

And this:

Put their books over there. They’re on a trip today.

“Their” is a possessive, like “your.” It modifies “books.” “There” indicates a place. “They’re” is a contraction for “they are.” Again, they are NOT INTERCHANGEABLE!

I know I’m talking to a bunch of writers and ostensibly you know the difference between “too,” “two,” and “to,” and between “they’re,” “their,” and “there,” and “your” and “you’re.” Well, maybe you all know the difference, but there are plenty of writers out there who don’t, many of whom self-publish their books through Amazon then spend more time trying to browbeat their Twitter followers and Facebook friends into buying it than they do proofreading what they’ve written, and having someone who has an eye for catching stuff like misspellings, punctuation errors, and grammar mistakes read over their masterpiece and catch all this little crap. Mary catches this stuff all the time in the books she’s reading, and it drives her nuts. I’m sure it drives you nuts, too. I was taught by nuns that would tell me that spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes drove the nails into the Hands of Jesus…

English is a difficult language, I know, and it’s a mongrel, combining words from nearly every language on earth, each with its own spelling and grammar rules. And there are people who, God bless them, try very hard to learn it. Imagine the confusion they feel when someone doesn’t take the time to write things the way they were told to expect them to be written. Take pity on them. Please.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill, who takes the time to check her spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You can find her blog, with all the rules for SoCS and pingbacks from the participants, here.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing


  1. As someone who tries to teach these silly rules to people with developmental disabilities, I understand how hard and seemingly silly they can be! Why is knight and night said first the same and second "ite"?

    1. It's like I said, English is a mongrel language, with words coming from all over the place...