Monday, September 12, 2011

Grammar Blues

I'm going to tell you something, but you have to promise to keep it a secret, okay?

I was reviewing an article when I spotted the word "your". There it was, just sitting there, minding its own business. No big deal, right? I use the word all the time.

However, it should have been "you're". I mentally slapped myself. I rarely make this kind of mistake, even in a draft. As an online writing instructor, I am always on the lookout for slip ups. I have to. It comes with the territory, you know? 

I was more aggravated than I should have been (hadn't had chocolate yet that day). This particular error is one of my pet peeves, so I was surprised my typing fingers and thinking brain hadn't connected. Anyway, I've moved on and have attributed the incident to the lack of chocolate.

It reminded me of the portion of my lessons where I talk about homonyms and homophones. Do you know what they are? You might not recognize the terms; I am sure, however, that you are acquainted with the the definitions.

Here's a hint. Take clues from the Greek and Latin roots. 

phone means sound. And so…

Homophones are words that sound alike but have a different meaning and spelling.       

to, too, and two, their, there, and they’re, your and you’re  

The prefix homo means same, and the suffix nym means word or name. So it makes sense that…

Homonyms are words that are spelled the same and sound alike but have different meanings, like this:                                                                   

The cart is full.                       
We will cart the boxes into the house.
We swam in the pool.              
They played a game of pool at the party.

See? I knew you knew what they were!

In honor of my chocolate deficient grammar mishap, thought I would share a few helpful links:

What grammar gaffe gets your goat?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange


  1. I never used to mix up words like that until I started writing, so I think it's natural. I just look carefully, very carefully when proof reading.

  2. Oh cool! I'd forgotten those words. One I see alot is a mix up between illusive and elusive. :)

  3. Fun post! I "two" catch my own mistakes, sometimes "to" late "too" do anything about it.

  4. I see the your and you're mistakes often. Also to and too.

  5. I always seem to find mistakes in others' writing but rarely my own...until it's printed. :)

  6. Laura,
    I think you are right. Careful proofreading is the key!

    I know, that's one I see too. And I must think before using them! :)

    Thank you! I like your examples! :)

    Yes, all the time! The misuse of the apostrophe gets to me too.

    Happy Monday,

  7. Carol,
    Ah yes, I've had that happen, and I hate it! Rather embarrassing, you know?
    Happy Monday,

  8. I see these errors on billboards often! My peeve is when a plural word is made more plural in error like womens instead of women's.

  9. Hi Linda .. I do the your and you're ... and the they're and there rather more often than I like to admit: I know perfectly well when they are wrong .. but the typing fingers obviously don't.

    If it's publicised it should be grammatically correct - what really annoys me .. is when people can't be bothered.

    Plurals are just lost on most people .. our education is up the shoot - starting with reading and writing .. that's me for the day - cheers for now!! Hilary

  10. Oh, Karen, we've all done that.

    One of my pet peeves is "its" versus "it's."

    I hate when I see "it's" used when it's supposed to be its. That is a very frequent error all over the place.

    It's good to be cognizant of good grammar. Susan

  11. LOL. I do this all the time and I'm a professional English Language Teaching editor. It's different when your mind is on writing. I really believe I use a different area of my brain in editing mode :o) So don't worry about it!

  12. This is why I love the fact that I can edit my posts. I found an error this morning after I'd already posted today's blog. I'd written "everyone" when I should have separated it. But something else has been happening lately. I've been typing "her" when I mean "you". And I've been writing "you" when I mean "him". I have no idea why. Strange, eh?

  13. I'm extra sensitive about those slip-ups too, Karen. Glad to hear I'm not alone. :)

  14. Wendy,
    Yes, me too! :) I have a whole list, actually...

    Me too, and in newspaper ads and everywhere. And the plural thing - well, say no more!

    Yes, we'll blame the fingers! I too, am bothered when someone can't take the time to proofread a little. We all miss things even doing that, but it does help. :)

    Oh, I know. At first I was aggravated and then thought it kind of funny, you know?

    I am glad to hear this, not for your discomfort of course. Sometimes I doubt my ability to teach - silly, I know! So glad to know I am in very good company!

    Oh yes, what would be do without being able to do so! Oh my! You have been busy of late, so perhaps that explains the mix ups.

    No you are not! As I said above, I am glad to be in VERY good company with all of you!


  15. Oh, gracious. They're always popping out at me. My internal editor can't help it! Too bad I can't turn it off sometimes...

    But I'm glad that even you professionals are human every once in awhile. :)

  16. I've probably made that mistake myself! sandie

  17. I switch "your" and "you're" all the time when I'm tying really fast. I only pick it up after reading what I've written. You're (not your) not alone.

  18. Phew--I haven't had any chocolate today yet so, to avoid mixing up "your" and "you're," I am now about to eat chocolate-covered pretzels dipped in peanut butter! (Okay, Okay..I would have eaten that, anyway. But it's nice to know the chocolate part of my snack will help me with my grammar! ;-)

    My pet peeve is when people mix up the word "then" and "than."

    I try to catch errors in the proofreading round, but mistakes sneak past every now and again. But I do my best...

    Have a lovely week to come!

  19. Rhonda,
    I know it, me too. On one hand the internal editor is a good thing, on the other, not so much! :)

    I guess we all make one mistake or another like that sometimes. Glad we're all in good company!

    Glad I am not alone. It's a very great comfort! :)

    Yes, the chocolate and grammar connection, we should explore that further. I am willing to do so in the name of research...:)


  20. Thanks for the grammar lesson, Karen.

    My slip-ups involve reversing letters more than the your/you're type of thing. I'm a fast typist, so occasionally my brain and fingers get out of sync.

  21. I do well to keep my grammar mistakes to a minimum and I give props to those of you who have a good handle on it. In a similar manner; I find it amusing that my son believes if your phone has a qwerty keyboard you should completely spell out your messages, no txt speak. He's 18.

  22. "You" and "You're" bother me big time. Back when I was a schoolteacher it was a common error in kids' work, and it annoyed me to no end! Although I taught Science, I still corrected their grammar and spelling, like "Don't your English teacher teach you English?"

    The most common errors in my manuscript are typos that Word doesn't underline with the squiggly red line, because they are words themselves: "no" and "not", "the" and "they", and my biggest classic, written on a Powerpoint slide for a Biology lesson:

    "Organism" became "orgasm". :)

  23. Susan,
    Glad to be of service. :P If my blunders can help anyone, then it's a good thing!

    Your son's take on texting is interesting. Good for him! I know I feel a little funny when using text speak and all lower case letters. I want to correct it. :)

    When I was in school, I knew that my teachers, other than the English ones, wouldn't be as hard on my grammar, so I wasn't always quite as fussy. Wonder if that makes me a slacker? lol

    Have a good day, all,

  24. Its an easy mistake to make, Karen and chocolate deficit can play havoc with one's grammar. For correct grammar, a bar of chocolate is a must.

  25. You are so funny! The one that irritates me is mixing up there and their.

    Now go get a chocolate...

  26. There and their gets me when I am typing too fast. My brain just tells my fingers the word I want there and they take their best guess, I guess.

  27. Rachna,
    Oh I knew you would be sympathetic! Thanks for understanding so well. :)

    Yes, we must go, and then keep it on hand at all times! I think all successful writers should...:)

    Sometimes I wonder if my brain is someplace else when I am writing...Gone in search of toast, perhaps? :P


  28. What a helpful post. Thanks for the links, too! :)


    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?

    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

  29. I gave up on catching my mistakes a long time ago. That's why I hired a good editor.

  30. I find that article very funny to read. As a French native, I had to study English grammar. So I am not so bad. But I find my husband's and children's spelling and grammatical mistakes really weird, they are English after all, they should know better!!

    But I also think that learning Latin at school did me a lot of good.

    Take care Karen. Big hug. xxx

  31. Elizabeth,
    Thank you! You are welcome to the links; they're a help to me. :)

    I think you have the right idea! Might save money on chocolate too!

    Yes, I imagine that would be a challenge, not having English as your first language and then trying to write it! I agree, I think Latin helps a great deal. xo

    Blessings all,

  32. For me it's form and from... I hate seeing one when I meant the other... and when I'm typing too fast, sometimes I scramble my own name! Now THAT would be embarrassing, should that ever go out in an email, and I only notice it after I hit "send."

    All best,

    I mean Saloma

  33. Saloma,
    Yes, that would be embarrassing, but then, I've nearly hit sent only to notice that I scrambled the letters in my name...:P Ah well, we are all in the same boat and would probably just laugh when we saw it!

  34. I have done the same thing so many times, and I know my homophones, but for some reason my fingers betray me with the your/you're when I'm in a rush (ditto with spelling!). So frustrating when I do something like this, because I do know better!

    Thanks so much for the mention--you are sweet to think of me. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  35. I find that as I write more profusely, my errors increase. Especially with quickly written blog posts and comments a lot of these slip past my internal editor.
    Unfortunately, the spell check doesn't catch these mistakes.

    Tossing It Out

  36. Karen, there are so many gaffes...especially in a country where most people speak 'Hinglish'...especially in small cities and towns!

  37. Angela,
    I know it, and it seems that it's happened to me more lately. Not sure if I am distracted or what...You are so welcome to the mention. Your site is fabulous! :)

    Okay, so me too lately. I don't know if I am rushing through things, or more stressed or what. Guess I just need to chill and fix it when it happens!

    Ah yes, I can see where that presents a unique challenge. I have noticed with friends overseas that there are some dependencies, but English is such a tricky language. I can't blame them for errors!


  38. Thank you for very good blog about English Grammar. It's very nice.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!