Your Not Their Yet?

Nope, you’re not “there” if the title of this post doesn’t jump out at you like a hopped-up kangaroo – in this case, “there” referring to the correct spelling of a handful of increasingly (and erroneously) swapped homonyms*: there, their, and they’re, plus you’re and your. You have arrived when you’re able to choose and spell them as follows:

“There was tension in the air as the sitter said, ‘You’re going to be in big trouble, kids, if you  don’t stop  your mischief. Your parents will be home in a minute, and they’re not going to like what you’ve done to their room.’”

Misspellers are doubtlessly aware of the homonyms’ meanings, but that doesn’t mean the words aren’t worth defining. For casual spellers, the definitions serve as a reminder of how very different all of them are. Said homonyms, one-by-one:

     there As an adverb there can mean “at, in, into, or toward  a place,” as in “Phil loved Hashop’s Drugs, stopping there often for a Coke float.”). As a pronoun it introduces a sentence or clause: “There was reason to believe Phil had a crush on Kathy.”

     their The possessive form of the pronoun they: “Their dates went from soda-sharing to movies at the Hillside Drive-In.”

     they’re Contraction of they are: “They’re some of the most talented musicians around.”

     your Possessive form of the pronoun you: “Your eyes look even greener when you wear that scarf.”

     you’re Contraction of you are: “You’re cruising for a bruising if you speak ill of Will.”

The key to keeping the words straight is giving some thought to each as you write it – a pipe dream for a lot of people in this day and age, but a way to get THERE orthographically intact.

*For similar mix-ups, see Hazardous Homonyms in Spellcheck.

One Response to Your Not Their Yet?

  • Rita S says:

    Fred,
    I like your suggestion that we THINK about words as we are writing.
    Being somewhat (somewhat? maybe VERY) compulsive, I review my emails before sending them – and usually find things that need to be edited. Alas.
    Rita S

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