As a guest speaker at a writers’ group recently, I was pleased to chat with enthusiastic writers who are learning their craft. When they surprised me with a “Thank You” card, I was delighted! Each attendee had secretly put a note in the card. Reading through their comments, I groaned. And I quote, “Your the best!” plus a smiley face. I loved what they meant, but didn’t love the way it was expressed!
Rant #2 YOUR vs. YOU’RE In a previous blog, I spoke about “alot” – wrong! and “too, to, and two.” (See July 8, 2014) Another major set of misuses I see regularly in writing is the above use of “Your.” Here’s the rule and an example: “Your” is possession – EXAMPLE – Your heart was in the right place. However, the above thank you note includes “Your the best” which should be “You’re the best.” Why? Because the writer should have used the contraction “You’re” meaning – You are. “You’re the best” is what I hope the writer meant.
So, to recap: When you mean “You are” and want to shorten it, “You’re” is the word to use. (A contraction that uses the apostrophe.) When the item belongs to someone, “Your” is the choice. EXAMPLE: Your sleeve was too long, so you had a tailor fix it. It’s a matter of realizing what you are saying – Which leads me to —
IT’S vs. ITS Even the spellchecker in your computer doesn’t get “its” right, underlining it with red to indicate that there is a mistake! When you want to use it’s – the way you can tell if you’re correct is if the words could mean “it is” and it still makes sense in your sentence. Example: It’s time to go home. (You could say this as – “It is time to go home.”)
When you’re looking for a descriptive word that means possession (an adjective, in case you remember your parts of speech from English class!) with an item, you should use “its” – no contraction, no apostrophe. Example: The ant industriously built a new home when its house was washed away in the storm. The test: You cannot say the above example – its house – and have it make sense if the its was spelled out, as in the previous example – “it is.” “It is house” doesn’t work here. So, use the word to use – its. (And forget what the spellchecker says!)
Feel free to comment and offer other misuses that you see regularly. I’ll gladly write more about those writing issues. Even large companies have mistakes on their websites!
Your grammar maven has left the room – until next time!