You’re going to love your English lesson for today

You know what absolutely drives me bananas? People who don’t know when to use “your” and when to use “you’re.” Look at this sentence:

You’re going to need your coat.

“You’re” is a contraction for “you are.” “Your” is a possessive, like an adjective. In the sentence above, “your” modifies “coat.” They are NOT interchangeable!

Likewise, check out this sentence:

Would you go to the store and buy two tomatoes and a head of lettuce, too?

“To” is a preposition. It modifies “go,’ in this case. “Two” is a number, i.e. 2. “Too” is an adverb meaning the same thing as “also.” They are also NOT INTERCHANGEABLE!

And this:

Put their books over there. They’re on a trip today.

“Their” is a possessive, like “your.” It modifies “books.” “There” indicates a place. “They’re” is a contraction for “they are.” Again, they are NOT INTERCHANGEABLE!

I know I’m talking to a bunch of writers and ostensibly you know the difference between “too,” “two,” and “to,” and between “they’re,” “their,” and “there,” and “your” and “you’re.” Well, maybe you all know the difference, but there are plenty of writers out there who don’t, many of whom self-publish their books through Amazon then spend more time trying to browbeat their Twitter followers and Facebook friends into buying it than they do proofreading what they’ve written, and having someone who has an eye for catching stuff like misspellings, punctuation errors, and grammar mistakes read over their masterpiece and catch all this little crap. Mary catches this stuff all the time in the books she’s reading, and it drives her nuts. I’m sure it drives you nuts, too. I was taught by nuns that would tell me that spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes drove the nails into the Hands of Jesus…

English is a difficult language, I know, and it’s a mongrel, combining words from nearly every language on earth, each with its own spelling and grammar rules. And there are people who, God bless them, try very hard to learn it. Imagine the confusion they feel when someone doesn’t take the time to write things the way they were told to expect them to be written. Take pity on them. Please.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill, who takes the time to check her spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You can find her blog, with all the rules for SoCS and pingbacks from the participants, here.


Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

24 thoughts on “You’re going to love your English lesson for today”

  1. Not to mention its and it’s. It also drives me crazy when people say anyways. Had to laugh about the driving the nails in Jesus’ cross. I went to Catholic school too and the nuns were pretty good about that kind of motivational speaking 🙂 Have a great weekend!


    1. At least mine didn’t smack the left-handed kids to get them to write right-handed. Did yours?

      “Its” and “it’s” is another one, and there are some people that have to add an apostrophe anytime a word ends with “s.” That’s second-grade stuff…


  2. My biggest grouse is the many people who write or say could of, would of, etc. instead of would’ve and could’ve being a contraction of could have and would have. These days everyone and their mother seems to use this incorrectly. I’m like Mary, these errors drive me nuts in ebooks although some of these mistakes crop up in print books too. In order to help, (and to save my sanity) I have been volunteering with various author friends to proof their writing for them.


    1. I was in a writer’s group with a woman who would use “cause” for “because.” I knew she meant “’cause” with an apostrophe, but every other sentence used it. When it came critique time, I let her have it, I was so upset. We had told her over and over that the word was “because” and “cause” turned her sentences into nonsense, but she wouldn’t listen…

      It’s great you’re helping your friends. Just be sure they don’t start pulling the tail out of it, as my mother used to say.


  3. Oh yes, indeed! Glad those nuns strove for perfection on grammar and spelling. It’s so unnerving. If you had English-speaking parents and lived in an English-speaking country all your life, there’s really no excuse. This stuff is covered in school for 15 freakin years in America and still people manage to act like it doesn’t matter. Gah!
    I really do despise the typos I find in articles and books, even printed books — but you’re SO right about self-publishers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With self-published material, there are time I think I’m looking at a “shitty first draft,” as Ann Lamott calls them. Not just SPaG errors, but stories that just plain make no sense. It’s as though they were in such a hurry to put it out there they didn’t bother to give it a second look, thinking “no one will notice.” I read a book once where I swear the author didn’t know how or when to use a comma. She put them in the wrong places and didn’t put them in the right ones. Halfway through, I just decided life was too short…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s another one! In an earlier comment, someone reminded me of “its” and “it’s,” and someone reminded me of “should of” instead of “should’ve.” There are more than we think!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am constantly amazed by the amount of grammatical errors, typos and spelling errors made by bloggers who write great posts and have good traffic. I guess a lot of people just don’t care. I proofread my blog half a dozen times before it gets published. I also proofread this before I hit post!


    1. I’m with you. I’m always going back to correct myself, and hate it when something goes out the door with errors in it. I always preview the post to see if something jumps out at me that I didn’t catch. 99 times out of a hundred I catch everything, and I’ve learned to find peace with mistakes when they do happen. But you’re right, readers don’t seem to care…


  5. Yes I have seen these errors so many times… Actually I am quite ok if it’s on social media as for many English is not a first language. What irks me is when I find these errors in books. Now that’s just not right.


    1. What gets me is, some of the worst offenders are people I went to grammar school with, who listened to the exact same rants I did and should have learned the rules when I did, fifty years ago. I cut non-native English speakers some slack, because English is a tough language to learn, but there are plenty of people I know were educated in the US who can’t get it straight. Whether that says something about the quality of education we get here, I don’t know…


  6. As you know a good share of my faculty here is writing faculty. They do grouse to each other about errors such as the ones mentioned here. And the other big one is not knowing the difference between plurals, possessives and plural possessives. I saw an ad on TV yesterday and they were talking about cars. And the printing read: 2017 Honda’s, 2017 Lexis’s, 2017 Ford’s, 2017 Chevy’s….


    1. Oh, man, that’s a big one. Particularly “its” and “it’s”; even people who are good with English have trouble with that on occasion. There are a ton of rules like that, and exceptions to nearly every one.


  7. As a line editor, as well as an author, I understand. What’s really bad is when you make corrections, and the author doesn’t listen to you. I’m a stickler for commas, and that’s what I find authors have the most trouble with. They seem to just want to leave out commas, and that drives me crazy.

    I do want to say something since it seem that self-published authors are being picked on just a little bit. I find errors in traditionally published works, too. The quality just isn’t what it used to be.


    1. I dealt with someone in a writer’s group who would submit some pages, and there’d be all kinds of SPaG errors. We’d all mark them and hand them back, and the next time she’d submit them the errors hadn’t been fixed. And this would go on every single time. Fortunately she dropped out because she self-published it, no doubt with the same errors. Another guy started handing us stuff he had already published, full of errors and a story that ran 600 pages and made no sense. I know the errors happen in print books as well, even with professional editors and typesetters, but they can prevent some disastrous results.


  8. I’m losing count of how many ebooks I’ve stopped reading because of editing issues. Sometimes it’s not even the grammar and spelling – the plot holes and inconsistencies are atrocious.
    By the way, praising my grammar on SoCS day might be going a bit too far… I only fix typos. 😉 hehe


    1. Perfect spelling, punctuation, and grammar doesn’t make up for a poorly-written story, but rarely does a poorly-written story come without spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. I read some stories and I’m embarrassed for the author, although it’s obvious they aren’t embarrassed at all.


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