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

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.

Why Copy Edit?

Copy editing will improve any manuscript. It improves the writing, it improves the writer’s own understanding of the structure of their book, and it makes it easier to publish the book. I know it is difficult to hand your masterpiece off to someone else and let them have their way with it. Before you go into a panic attack, there are a few things to point out.

A good editor will never just slash at your manuscript willy nilly. Certain changes for grammar, style and spelling may be automatic, but anything structural will be suggested first. Perhaps the editor will query you on a potential change or ask why you set it up in the order that it is in. These suggestions can not only tighten your writing, but improve the entire structure of your story.

What was that about making your story easier to publish? Well, like everyone else in this economy, publishers are being hit hard. They understand the reasoning for a high quality edit of every manuscript they set in print. But with costs being what they are, they may be more inclined to print a manuscript that has already had a lot of the editing done before they get it than one they need to spend a lot of time and money on to get it ready. In fact, many agents won’t even consider a book these days unless it is already polished and ready to go.

Yes, it’s true that writers can do editing themselves… to a point. You can go through it with a fine tooth comb and correct your spelling errors. However, and this is true of all writers, myself included, that after awhile, you just don’t see the errors. This is actually good if you’re a writer. You need to be so involved in your work that it becomes a part of you. But this is also why you need a fresh pair of eyes that are not attached to the material to really do a good edit for you.

So, you’ve decided to hand your manuscript off to Aunt Marge. She was a school librarian… she should be able to edit your book, right? Well, she may catch a few things, but professional editors are skilled in evaluating every sentence; every word. They know how to pay attention to detail as well as understand the structure of a book. They also understand how the publishing world works and how to help your book become more marketable. And finally, the best thing you get from a good editor is someone who can teach you. They won’t lecture you about how this, that and the other thing is all wrong; they will guide you and suggest how you can best improve your book.

Just remember that it is a collaboration. The editor is there to make you the best you can be; you will benefit as much as your book.

Why Do I Edit?

I have been asked why I wanted to be an editor occasionally over the years. The truth is… I can’t help it. I unconsciously edit everything I read. My family will tell you my outrage when I find an error in a book we’ve purchased. I point out errors in signs, handouts and menus. I can’t help it. I’ve always been this way.

I’m nice enough not to point out these errors to the parties involved, but it irks me to no end. When I was in high school, I used to correct the handouts I got from my creative writing teacher and hand them back to him. When I graduated, I gave him a special gift: his own personal spelling dictionary. LOL

So, how could I be anything else than an editor? Yes, I write. Yes, I draw and paint. But deepest down, in my heart of hearts, I am an editor.

So, take the opportunity to have me in your corner. I am happy to work on your manuscripts and get them ship shape.

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?