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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Overcoming common grammatical errors: your vs you're, their vs there vs they're, to vs too

Yesterday I saw this cartoon a friend had posted on Facebook. It's pretty funny but at the same time it can be embarrassing if you're the person online, in emails, or in handwritten notes who doesn't understand grammar and the correct word to use when you're faced with homonyms, two words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

I'm not ashamed to admit for years after I started blogging I would rewrite an entire sentence if I wasn't sure which homonym I should be using when confronted with words like to vs too. Or I would rewrite to avoid a punctuation issue, the most common of which was "Do periods go inside or outside of quotation marks?" By moving the quote to the beginning or middle of a sentence I didn't have to know the answer to that question. Then one day I realized that I could Google my grammar and punctuation questions and it was as if I'd seen the light.

It's so easy! I'd Google the words this way: your vs you're, to vs too, compliment vs complement. At first I'd have to Google the same searches over and over. Gradually, it all began to stick and I realized my writing was improving thanks to Google!

Your vs. You're at www.wikihow.com

Online the most common wrong word used is probably your vs. you're.

When you combine two words together to form one it's called a "contraction." So if you're not sure which way to spell a word like your or you're ask yourself this: Do I mean "you are" or do I mean the word "your"? If "you are" fits you're is the correct word and spelling to use.

You're going to be late = You are going to be late

That's you're piece of cake. "That's you are piece of cake" doesn't work so your is the correct spelling: That's your piece of cake.

The same can be said for its vs it's. If "it is" works you want to use the contraction form "it's." If it is doesn't work, use "its."

Their vs There vs They're at www.Planetoid.org

If you spend any time on social media websites or reading comments on news websites you'll see their, there and they're incorrectly used every day.

Here's the thing, I was never more than an average student when it came to grammar in school. In fact, if you go through the first few years of this blog you will find many instances where I used "then" instead of "than." My reason for pointing this out? It's never too late to improve your grammar and learn how to punctuate correctly.

As a blogger I run into lots of situations where I'm not quite sure how to spell or punctuate something. For instance, does a period go inside or outside of quotation marks at the end of a sentence? So I Googled my question and lots of results came back.

It's that easy!

Periods and Quotations Marks: Grammartips.homestead.com

In no way am I professing to be any kind of expert on grammar or punctuation. I am, and will always remain, a work in progress when it comes to becoming a better writer. I'm learning as I go and do my best. That's all I can do. But I wanted to share these tips with you in case you also struggle with words and punctation :)

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