They’re, Their, There

They're Their There

They’re, their, there!

Here we are for Tutorial Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

They’re Not Letting Me Play with Their Toys Over There!

As you can see I used them all in the sentence above in their proper sense. Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?

 

They’re, their, there quandary!

Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?

They’re

This is a contraction of ‘they are.’ If you think you need to use this in a sentence, you can test it out by replacing it with ‘they are’ to see if it still works.

They’re looking at me.

They are looking at me.

See? You should be able to interchange them easily and the sentence still makes sense.

Their

This is a possessive. The word tells you that whatever you’re talking about belongs to them. Their toys, their car, their vegetables… see?

Their tomatoes were ripe and juicy.

The tomatoes belonged to them, not me. I would certainly buy those tomatoes from them if they are really that good. :)

There

This word is used to describe placement.

They parked the car over there.

It can also be used with variations of the verb ‘to be’.

There are apples all over the ground.

See? It is paired with ‘are,’ which is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be.’

It really is very simple if you take a moment to think about it when you write. In these types of grammatical cases, it is best to rely on your brain than on spell checkers found in many programs. I often get flags on my writing with these three words in MS Word when I am using them correctly. The program wants me to change it to they’re in most cases, which would not be correct for the sentence I wrote. If ever in doubt, just do this quick little test and you’ll know you used the correct one

Tutorial Tuesday – Grammar: Its and It’s

Streamed live on Oct 30, 2012

Tuesday Tutorials…

Helping you with your grammar… one small tutorial at a time!

Rakestraw Book Design
http://rakestrawbookdesign.com/

Okay. You’re writing and suddenly you can’t remember if you need it’s or its. When in doubt, use the apostrophe, right? WRONG. There is a simple way to double check if you’re using the right version.

Its

This is possessive. Unlike most possessive words like Mom’s flowers, Sarah’s jeans or the man’s tie, when you use the possessive of it you don’t use an apostrophe. Why? Because the apostrophe is already being used in the other form… see the next paragraph.

For example: The dog chewed its food carefully instead of gulping.

It’s

This is NOT possessive. This is a contraction of the words ‘it is.’ If you can replace ‘it’s’ in your sentence with ‘it is,’ use the apostrophe.

For example: It’s not my fault the cat escaped when the door was open.

This can also be written: It is not my fault the cat escaped when the door was open.

This is the contraction version, so use the apostrophe.

Is it all clear? This is a simple rule to remember, so there won’t be any trouble figuring out which one to use in the future when you write. Just ask yourself that little question… can I replace it with ‘it is’? If not, you are probably using it as a possessive, which means… all together now…. no apostrophe!

Happy writing!

References:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves Illustrated Edition, by Lynne Truss
The Associated Press Guide To Punctuation, by Rene J. Cappon

Is Alright All Right?

This one is a personal pet peeve of mine. I see people use alright all the time. Technically, it is not a word. It is a misspelling of all right. Every time I see it I want to scratch it out and write it correctly.

For language geeks like me, it is with great trepidation that I learned that alright is mildly acceptable in British English along the fringes. Eeek. Thank you to Grammar Girl for enlightening me on this one. According to her site, the American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style says it is unacceptable in one place, yet in another states that it means satisfactory. Huh? Looks like we’re in for a gradual change here in America, too… though I don’t have to like it.

Peek, Peak & Pique

Have you ever had your curiosity piqued? Have you climbed a peak? Have you taken a peek at something new? Yes, these three words sound alike, but they are totally different.

Pique

Pique is a French word that means “prick” or “stimulate.” Your curiosity can be piqued, but not peaked. So can your interest. Pique can also mean resentment or annoyance.

The new book piqued my interest.

The model had a fit of pique when they didn’t have her favorite snack.

Peak

A peak is the top of something; the peak of a mountain, the peak of a career, the peak of an experience.

The mountain peaks looked rosy in the sunset.

Peek

We’ve all taken a peek at something. It is a quick, furtive look where we hope we won’t get caught, usually.

It was difficult not to peek in the oven at the souffle.

Are, Our, Hour

Do you know anyone who mixes these words up when they write? They usually know what they want to say, but when it comes to writing it down, many people find it easy to mix up are, our and hour.

Are & Our

Lots of people pronounce our like are when they talk, so when they write, they don’t think about it. In order to have our written words taken seriously, however, you need to know the difference.

Our & Hour

For those people who pronounce these two words alike, spelling can also interfere when they write.

Are

Are is a plural verb or helping verb.

The flowers are in full bloom.

Our

Our is a possessive pronoun.

Our house is blue and white.

Hour

Hour refers to a period of sixty minutes.

The hour passed slowly.

Writing Tip: Are We Allowed to Read Aloud?

writing tipHere’s a good writing tip. This is a pair of words that I normally think are pretty self-explanatory… yet I continually see them misused. Allowed or Aloud? What do you think?

Allowed

Allowed means you have permission to do something.

The children are allowed to play with the dog.

Aloud

Aloud means something can be heard.

She spoke aloud without realizing it.

Simple, right? Right! Now you never need to worry about getting them mixed up again. What words do you see misused? What words do you have trouble with?

To, Too & Two

Ah, the beauty of the English language. Here we are with three different words that sound exactly the same. People mix them up all the time. Well, most of them.

To, too and two all sound alike, yet mean completely different things. Technically, they are homophones. They sound alike, it’s true. They are not the same thing, however.

Two

To be fair, two isn’t mixed up with the others as often as the other two are. Everyone knows two is a number, right?

There were two horses grazing in the field.

To

You would think everyone would remember this one. It is on all those To and From tags we use on gifts at the holidays.

To is a preposition that precedes a noun.

I handed the book to Lori.

She was taking a trip to England.

To is also an infinitive that precedes a verb.

We went to eat at a four star restaurant.

They went outside to play.

Hmmm. Is it a coincidence that to has two uses?

Too

Too is often used as a synonym for also.

Shelly wanted to go, too.

Macaroni and cheese is my favorite, too.

Surprisingly, too also has a second usage. When it precedes an adverb or adjective, too can mean excessively.

The car was traveling too fast.

The kids ate too many cookies.

So, maybe it isn’t a coincidence that both to and too have two ways to use them.

Breathe In and Take a Deep Breath

Did you know there is a difference between the words breathe and breath? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone write something like “She took a deep breathe.”

Let’s take a look at this. Yes, they both use ea in the words, which can give a long ee sound. However, ea can also give a short e sound like in the word death.

In fact, let’s use that as a mnemonic. If you don’t take a breath, death may come to call. They rhyme, so it will be easier to remember to use the word breath when you need to.

After taking a deep breath, she began to relax.

Now, if you need to use the word breathe, you do need the extra e on the end.

Breathe deeply of the salty air.

Got it? :)

Breaching the Breech

These two words are often confused with one another. Since I know a lot of people in the childbirth field, I see these words a lot. Not even all the birth people use them correctly, which surprises me a bit.

Breach

A breach is a gap in something or a violation of something. To breach something is to break, break through or break open something.

They were in breach of contract.

The enemy attempted to breach the castle walls.

Breech

A breech is the back or lower end of something.

The baby was breech; the midwife could see his bottom emerging first.

Yes, there is only one letter difference between these two words, but as you can see, they mean completely different things. Granted, you could use breach in reference to birth, but it certainly wouldn’t mean the same thing as a baby being born bottom first.

The obstetrician created a breach in the mother’s belly when he performed the cesarean.

Make sense?

Affect and Effect

Affect and effect are often mixed up. With only one letter difference, it can be confusing. However, if you remember that affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun, it helps immensely.

Affect means “to influence,” so if you ask yourself when writing if this is the meaning you want, you’ll probably use the proper word.

The book affected me deeply.

Effect is like a result. If this meaning fits what you’re writing, use the e.

The effect was dazzling.

Rare Exceptions

Of course, like most things, there are exceptions to this rule.

If you are using affect in regards to psychology, you can use it as a noun. It is often used in this way to describe a mood in psychological terms.

Her face reflected a sad affect.

Likewise, effect can be used as a verb in special cases when you want to “bring about” something.

The mothers hoped the nurse-in would effect the change they wanted.