In more than two years of blogging and reading blogs, I’ve learned something very important:
Some people just don’t have a freaking clue when it comes to certain grammar rules.
I can easily overlook spelling errors and typos, especially in the informal context of blogging. But some errors are so heinous, and repeated so often, they beg to be addressed. So. In the interest of the public at large and the crimes being committed against the English language with terrifying frequency, here are a few, basic grammar and usage rules.
Your and You’re:
You’re missing your favorite movie.
Your is a pronoun which shows possession, as in Is this your coat? or Your eyes are lovely. You’re is a contraction, a short form of the words you are, as in Are you sure you’re alright? and You’re in a lot of trouble, mister. Anytime you start to write (or type) the word you’re, stop and substitute the words you are. If your sentence still makes sense, you’re good.
There, Their and They’re
They’re looking over there for their mittens.
There is a place or a point; it is the opposite of here, as in There is the cafeteria or Is there more to this than meets the eye? Their is a plural pronoun which shows possession, as in Their car is in the shop. They’re is a contraction combining the words they and are, as in They’re [they are] going to the store. Again, substituting the words they are in your sentence can help you determine if usage of they’re is appropriate.
Two, Too and To
Two bears are too many to challenge.
Two is a number, as in I have two dogs. Too is used when the meaning is “in addition,” as in Paris and I attended the party. Nicole came along, too. OR when the meaning is “more than enough,” as in I’ve made too many trips to the pediatrician or Too many cooks spoil the stew. To is a preposition with many definitions (see link), and is generally used whenever two and too are inappropriate, as in We went to the mall and To what do I owe this pleasure? To is also used to anchor an infinitive (to plus a verb), as in To know him is to love him. (I’ll refrain from going on a rant about split infinitives.) (Okay, I can’t refrain completely. It’s Try not to split your infinitive, NOT Try to not split your infinitive. It’s awkward, and it HURTS ME, PEOPLE.)
A lot of cars were stuck in traffic.
My seventh grade English teacher said, “If you only remember one thing from this entire year, let it be this: A lot is TWO. WORDS. Not one.” Alot is not a word.
Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve
Perhaps the most horrific crime currently being committed against the English language is the tendency some folks have to substitute the word of for the word have or for contractions ending in -ve. When I read something like, “I was so mad, I could of screamed,” a little part of me dies. Would’ve. Could’ve. Should’ve. As in would have, could have, and should have. As in I would’ve picked you up at the airport, if I had known you were arriving today.
One last thing, folks…
Every time you write if I had of known (*shudder*), God kills a kitten.
Tune in next time, when we address Hillbilly Grammar, and the difference between SEEN and SAW!