Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Speak and Spell
Being the spelling/grammar snob that I am, I’ve decided to make today’s post a much-needed lesson about commonly misspelled and misused words. Mainly because I find myself desperately wanting to edit my friends’ Facebook status updates. It makes my skin crawl.
Don’t hate. Later you’ll be thanking me for this, and people will be astonished at your newfound grasp of contractions and your stellar writing abilities.
We begin with the most common offender...
A lot. No, that’s not a statement. I’m referring to the word “a lot” (well, two words). “A lot” is NEVER one word (alot = incorrect). Think of a car lot. You wouldn’t spell it "carlot" would you? Nor should you squish “a lot” together as one word. Don’t do it. No excuses. It’s just wrong.
Next, familiar contractions that we all should’ve learned in grade school. Some of you were obviously too busy eating glue to really absorb this, so here is an efficient recap…
You’re and your
You're = you are
Example: “If you’re still reading this, chances are you find this information necessary to learn.”
Your = belonging to or relating to somebody. There is also no need to add an apostrophe, since it already implies possession.
Incorrect = your’s
Example: “If you’re easily offended at these simple instructions, then perhaps you need to improve your skills.”
See how I effectively used both examples? Booyah.
They, they’re, there and their
**sigh** Where, oh where, do I even begin?
Let’s break it down:
They = people in general, or things mentioned. Now, I really only included this word to set the preface for the remainder of this lesson. Moving forward...
They’re = they are
Example: “Often people are confused as to whether or not they’re actually using contractions correctly.”
There = adverb used to indicate a place, or simple subject
Example: "Still confused? See that sentence up there."
Their = belonging to them, him or her
Example: “Why people don’t work harder to actually spell their words correctly baffles the hell out of me.”
Now, let’s bring it all home…
“If ever there was an effective means to prompt people to attempt to use correct spelling and grammar, they’re bound to learn something if they apply these simple rules to their memory.” (I even threw in a “they” and a “they’re". Score.)
It’s and its
Another toughie. For most people. I’m not most people.
It’s = it is
Example: “When you speak or write using incorrect grammar, people assume it’s because you are lazy and unintelligent.” (I’m just sayin’. Don’t give them ammunition.)
Its = indicating possession. Again, there is also no need to add an apostrophe, since possession is already implied.
Example: “Your brain really needs to absorb this stuff so it can expand its power.”
Y’all = when you live in the south and combine the phrase “you all”. If you live in Texas and don’t know how to spell this, then you are a disgrace to all proud southerners. Shame.
Incorrect = ya’ll, which if you break down the contraction, would basically mean “ya all”. No. No. No.
Many people have asked if there is a plural to “y’all”. It is rumored to be an affront to the word, but it’s the most appropriate phrase I can conjure: “all y’all”.
Other popular contractions that are misused…
Are not = aren’t
Have not = haven’t
Did not = didn’t
Does not = doesn’t
Do not = don’t
You have = you’ve
You will = you’ll
She has, is = she’s
He has, is = he’s
Was not = wasn’t
Will not = won’t
We are = we're
Were = past tense of "be"
We will = we'll
There is = there’s
Would have = would’ve
Would not = wouldn’t
Cannot (not “can not”) = can’t
Should have = should’ve
Should not = shouldn’t
Could have… Aww, screw it. Really. I could go on, but if you’re not getting a handle on this by now then you’re a lost cause.
Also, for use in sentences…
Couple “either” with “or” and “neither” with “nor”. Otherwise you’ll sound like a moron. And don’t begin too many sentences with “and”. Or, use, serial, commas.
And now, I’ve saved the very best (or rather, worst) for last…
To, too and two
Pay close attention to this one, folks. When I read these words written or typed incorrectly, I have the urge to spontaneously combust. And that’s just the beginning of my intended wrath.
To = a preposition or adverb indicating the direction, destination, or position of somebody or something
Example: “I’m going to pretend you understand this, so we will move on to our next word.”
Too = more than, in excess, indeed, very, in addition to
Example 1: “It’s never too late to learn something new.”
Example 2: “I hope you agree with the above statement, too.”
Two = one + one, something with a value of 2
Example: “Share this valuable blog information with a friend, and then two of you will be smarter.”
All together now…
“Those of us who make a habit of using correct grammar and exercise phenomenal spelling skills know we're supreme beings. Too often, too many people think they’re able to speak and spell properly. If you’re one of those people, you aren't. It’s highly likely you’re living in denial. However, if the two voices in your head are encouraging y’all to expand your knowledge, then it’s as good a time as any to relearn or perfect any skills you had before acquiring them through this blog, its lessons and its priceless content. There are very few people who will be as brutally honest with you as I will. They’re few and far between. I can only hope their brains will retain this information and use it. A lot.”
Well, there you have it. I make no apologies for my perfection, and neither should you. Learn this. Live this. Dream about it. Breathe it deeply in. Print it out and give it to a friend for a special occasion. I guarantee they will thank you for alerting them to their stupidity.
Next week’s lesson: common four letter expletives and how to use them diplomatically and creatively when expressing them.