Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Your Going To Get They're

I've been accused by my friends of being somewhat of a Grammar Nazi.  I always respond that I prefer the term "educated."

Okay, so I can be a bit of an arrogant jerk about writing, but that's because I view our ability to write correctly as a measure of intelligence.  Any idiot can speak well - although, honestly, there are many out there who can't - but we can see all the errors of psyche when we write poorly.  And while crafting a compelling narrative doesn't lie within everyone's wheelhouse, we should at least use the correct form of the words we put on paper.  Our bosses, our peers, and our customers will judge us as not very smart if we make basic mistakes, for language is seen as a basic building block of society.

This means even more as writers.  A lot of people will tolerate "normal" folks who write poorly, even if they cringe, but they'll quickly discard a book that makes similar errors...and I've seen plenty of books that make such mistakes.  Here are the most simple, yet egregious, ones I've seen.

You're versus Your - This might be the most common mistake I see.  Come on, people - one is possessive, and the other shows action.  "Your" means things belong to you, like "that's your bike" or "your character is unassailable."  You're means you're doing something(see, I just used it there). Please, for the love of all that is holy, learn this.

They're, Their, There - They're is another action word, such as "they're going to the mall."  In all honesty, this form isn't usually used mistakenly.  However, there and their are used interchangeably sometimes, and it drives me nuts.  Their is possessive, and you use it like, "The bank is so poorly guarded that I could take all their money."  There can be used as a pronoun, adverb, or adjective.  You can use it like, "I'm going over there," or "There is no way you can pull that off."  It confuses people if you conflate them.

Its and It's - Again, people seem confused by the possessive.  I sort of understand this one since the possessive usually uses the apostrophe with the S, and its doesn't.  However, since there isn't a plural form of its, the apostrophe being overlooked is common.  Its indicates ownership, such as "its color is breathtaking."  It's, on the other hand, is action or description oriented, like, "It's hot out there," or "It's running wild."

Could've versus Could Of - This may be the one that drives me insane the most, for I believe it shows true hillbilly ignorance.  First of all, "could of" is in no way the proper use of the word.  It is a lazy way to use "could've," and try as I might, I couldn't find any proper way to insert "could of" into a sentence.  Could've, the correct way to do what you're trying to say, is the conjunctive of "could" and "have."  I get that I sound like an arrogant prick with this, but this is the stuff I remember learning in 2nd Grade.  Please stop it...please please please stop it.

Maybe some folks on the lower end of the education scale won't notice, but your more intelligent readers will, and they'll discard you.  However, if you use the words properly, your dumb readers will, again, not notice(it's not like they're looking for you to be an idiot and will appreciate you more if you do), and your intelligent readers(which are disproportionately more concentrated among book readers than the general population) won't throw your work away in disgust.

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