Using the Homophones There, They’re, and Their Correctly

As all writers know, having good grammar skills is essential for good, clear writing. However, it seems that despite spell check and grammar check on word processing programs mistakes still abound on the internet and, unfortunately, even in some published journals and books. So relying entirely on built-in correction programs to do our proofing may not always be the best idea. Not to mention that auto correct is not always so correct.

I’m going to cover a subject that is one of my biggest grammar mistake pet peeves, the misuse of homophones. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me each day as I read social media updates, webpages, and really, most anything, that most of the English-speaking population was apparently absent from school the day homophones & contractions were taught. Besides the chronic misuse of “your” for “you’re” people also regularly use the wrong form of there, they’re, and their. So today, I’m going to go over the correct usage of these words.

The word there is an adverb used to indicate a particular place or position of a person or object. Examples of use: “Our car is parked over there.” “We are going there tomorrow.” Or, “Hello there!”

The word their is a possessive pronoun that shows ownership. Example: “Their car broke down yesterday on their way home.”

The word they’re is a contraction combining the words they and are. Example: “They are going to the beach in a week.” Or “They’re going to the beach in a week.”

This concludes another grammar lesson segment. I hope this will help make your writing easier and clearer. Happy writing!


Using Where & Wear and Were & We’re Correctly

Today’s grammar lesson covers the homophones where and wear, and the words were and we’re. These words often get confused even by auto correct and spell check programs. It’s always a good idea to do a quick read over whatever you’re writing since these words may not be spelled correctly for the context of the sentence. For instance, we may be writing “I know where the house is”, but auto correct or a slip of the fingers may place the word were or wear in place of where.

Since I discussed contractions in a previous post I’ll start with the contraction of “we’re”. This is a combination of the plural pronoun we and the present tense plural form of the verb to be which is are. Example: “We are going to the movies.” Or “We’re going to the movies.”

In contrast, were is the plural past tense of the verb to be. The word “are” is the plural present form of the verb to be. Example: “We were at the beach last week.” Vs: “We are going to the beach.”

The word wear is a verb. It means to use as an article of clothing or adornment. (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Example: “I wear a uniform to work.”

Where is probably the most complex of all of these words. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary where can be an adverb, conjunction, or a noun.

As an adverb the word “where” indicates the position of something or someone. Example: “Where did I put my glasses?”

As a conjunction “where” still means the location or position of something or someone, but it takes a different position in the sentence or question. Examples:”Do you know where the office is located?” “The driver knows where his destination is.”

As a noun the word where means a specific place or location. Example: “The incident report will state the where and how of the car accident.”

This concludes this week’s grammar lesson. As always, your comments or questions are welcome.

When To Use Semicolons

I recently did an editing assignment for an author who had written a romance novella. There were several places when she had used a semicolon incorrectly. So today’s grammar lesson is about semicolons, when to use them and when not to.

Semicolons act like commas, but with a stronger impact stylistically. They are used to separate two independent clauses with related thoughts or ideas. Example: “Some people like to write; others hate to write.”

Semicolons can be used with conjunctive adverbs or transitional phrases to connect two similar thoughts or ideas. Example: “In the old days people wrote with typewriters, but now people write with computers; as a result, the writing process is much simpler now.”

Semicolons should be used in sentences where a list of items is included in a sentence that already has commas in order to eliminate confusion. Example: “Writers have many different types of tools to choose from to complete their writing tasks, some more affordable than others, such as computers; pen or pencil and paper; tablets; and even smartphones.”

Semicolons can also be used to join long clauses with commas to avoid confusion. Example: “If you’re away from your computer you can use pen and paper, which is easy and convenient to carry with you; or your could use a voice recorder, which is relatively inexpensive to purchase and convenient to carry, to record your thoughts to write down later.”

Semicolons should be used in order to avoid comma splices (the linking of two independent clauses by a comma with no coordinating conjunction). Incorrect: The horse is white, the horse is dirty. Correct: The horse is white; the horse is dirty.

Incorrect: I like horses, however, I’m afraid of them. Correct: I like horses; however, I’m afraid of them. However is not a coordinating conjunction; therefore, it should not be used between commas.

Grammar Lesson – Using Your and You’re

There is a common mistake that most English-speaking people make almost daily in their writing. This mistake is my biggest pet peeve of grammar mistakes. Many people mistake the words your and you’re when writing. I’ve seen this mistake all over social media, the web, and even in a few published books. 

Usually people write “your” when “you’re” should have been written. So in this installment of Grammar Lessons I’ll discuss the difference between the words your and you’re and when to use each one. 

“Your” is a pronoun.  It is used to show ownership by one or more people. Since the pronoun “you” can be used as singular or plural, so can the possessive pronoun “your”. Examples: “Timmy, your book is on the table.” (Singular) “Timmy and Johnny, go to your room.” (Plural).

“You’re” is a contraction. It is a combination of the words you and are. Examples: “You are a very nice person.” ie, “You’re a very nice person.” It would be incorrect to say “Your a nice person.” Since your is a possessive pronoun the preceding sentence would somehow imply you have a nice person. 

I also very often see the expression “You’re welcome” written “Your welcome.” Again, writing the latter implies that you own the welcome. This is not possible. The expression written out actually reads as, “You are welcome,” hence “You’re welcome” would be the correct way to write it as a contraction.

In conclusion, your is used to show ownership and you’re is the two words you and are combined.

Grammar Lesson – Homophones : To, Two, & Too

Since good grammar is such an important aspect of writing, I’ve decide to make small grammar lesson installments for quick, easy reference.

In today’s grammar lesson I will cover the homophones “to“, “two“, and “too“. Most of us do not usually get confused over when to use the word “two“, but “to” and “too” are often confused and misused.

As most of us should remember from school, the word two is the spelled out version of the number 2. The word “to” is a preposition, however, the word “too” is an adverb. 

A preposition usually precedes a noun and indicates a relationship between words in the clause. Examples of how this relationship works would be: over the fence, in the garden,  under the bed, and to the store. Some prepositions are locational or directional, while others indicate time or duration. The words over, in, under, and to are all directional and locational prepositions. Some correct uses of the preposition to would be: “I am going to the movies.” “I baby wants to eat.”

 As stated earlier, the word too is an adverb. The  first definition of too is – an excessive degree of, or a higher degree than what is desired. Example: “That helping of peas is way too much.”

The second definition of too is – also, in addition to. Example of proper use: “We are going to the park, and the dog is going too.” 

Hopefully this installment of Grammar Lessons has been useful to you. If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments box or use the contact page to send an email.