I asked my Facebook friends for some posting inspiration recently and it seemed that people were in the mood for a fresh post on making your grammar more accurate and less embarrassing.
I love helping people look and feel smarter!
You feel like judging me right now because I started a post about bad grammar with bad grammar.
That’s what we call irony though, friends.
Because, of course I know dat ain’t even a word and stuff.
Here’s the main difference between that little sentence (and any additional grammatical errors that have and will occur in this post) and the crimes against the English language so many of my friends and family members and random strangers who somehow wind up in my Facebook newsfeed are committing: intention.
I commit grammar errors on purpose. When I want to. For effect. Because you like it, even if you don’t know they’re happening.
The grammar rules I break are done on purpose, to add flair, to make reading my writing more relatable. Like having a conversation with me on the football field. Or over French fries and milkshakes at McDonald’s. It makes us feel like a couple of friends, gossiping about the neighbors and getting chunky together while we mostly ignore our kids in the play yard.
I KNOW I’m doing it. For you.
Other people seem to be doing it because they truly don’t know any better. It’s not to connect with the reader or add interest to their stories. It’s because the words their, there, and they’re have them stumped, they don’t know they’re stumped, but they are.
I honestly think people just pick randomly which to use. Like, they think, “I’m about to use their/they’re/there in a sentence, I’ll just go with whichever falls out of my mind first because, eh, they all mean the exact same thing! I love that flexibility!”
The English language is notorious for being inflexible.
As a former language arts teacher, seeing people act carelessly with our tool of expression makes me all different types of sad. Because words are beautiful, being able to express yourself is a gift, knowledge is power and all of that. Also, someone failed you. At some point in your educational history some teacher along with your mama and your daddy let your ability to express yourself with the written word fall by the wayside.
Like they didn’t even give a care.
Lucky for you (and everyone else who sits behind their computers on facebook judging you), I do give a care. In fact, I COULD care less!
5 Things EVERYONE Should Know About Their There They’re
1. There is arguably the least tricky of the three because it has absolutely nothing to do with living things. In most daily conversation, there is used to describe location as in, “Go over there and wait.” Or, “There they go, being annoying again.” Sometimes the location is abstract: “There are things you don’t understand.” Never is it used to refer to a group of people.
2. They’re is a contraction (this one should sound familiar to you if you checked out the how to use your and you’re post). Two distinct words, they and are, smashed together for ease of use. The only situations where they’re can be used without me wanting to karate chop your throat, are those in which they are could be used in it’s place. Example? Sure… They’re going to eat at the stadium can easily be written, They are going to eat the stadium. Hooray! No throat chop for you. However, They’re food is at the stadium is all kinds of wrong because you can’t say They are food is at the stadium. I mean you can, but no one will know what you are even talking about and I will so take a jab at your jugular.
3. Their is all about ownership. If you want to express that something belongs to some other people use their; Is that their passenger van? Their eight kids are so big now. Their divorce was really ugly. That’s how that works. Replacing helps people with this one too. For example, if you can replace their with Jon and Kate’s and it works, you’re using the word correctly, see: Is that Jon and Kate’s passenger van? Jon and Kate’s eight kids are so big now. Jon and Kate’s divorce was really ugly. Perfect! Although, technically you can also replace their with our, you don’t really have to use Jon and Kate’s like I do.
4. Mixing up their there they’re is not normal. It’s common, but not normal. I would argue that it’s an act of laziness. You can easily type “how to use they’re” into Google and get your answer. In fact, there is a Wiki on the topic.
5. There is a website devoted to solving this issue for confused English speakers everywhere (in case my tutorial fell short). Check it out: http://www.theretheyretheir.com/