Riddle Me This #5

Was everybody absent the day they taught contractions in second grade? Please explain to me the universal mayhem and panic that ensues when a typical adult is forced to choose between using their, there, or they’re in a written message. You might be able to explain away your confusion when choosing between there and their. Though if you’ve read Green Eggs and Ham, you’ve got no excuse as Dr. Seuss has provided you with the world’s best and most memorable primer for how and when to use there under a variety of unlikely, yet sweetly weird, circumstances.

But here’s what I really don’t get. What is the ambivalence about when they’re comes into play? They’re = they are. That’s it. It’s two words shortened into one. With an apostrophe. Whose sole purpose is to remind you that you are about to write two words abbreviated into one. It’s a gimme. Use it when you mean to say they are. As in they’re about to choose the wrong version of there. Or they’re about to prove why adult Americans are generally perceived to be kind of ignorant and limited in our written and expressive language. I just made that up. But it’s probably true.

Same thing for your and you’re. As in get your contractions right people! Or you’re going to be embarrassed by your inability to successfully pass your efforts at forging your child’s college application essays off as something your child wrote. Because he knows the difference between your and you’re.  Because he went to second grade.

Now, as I am clearly the undisputed Queen of the run-on sentence and overuse-of-commas-and-hyphens-for-comic-conversational-effect, please forgive me the occasional grammatical improvisation for creative purposes. And I generally don’t know what I’m talking about, so there’s that. I really have no idea how and when to use lie or lay. So the lines are open and I’m taking calls on how to choose between those two without admitting you’re (your?) an idiot. And if you’ve ever mixed up we’ve and weave, I can’t even talk to you about that.

They’re*, I said it. Now your* ready to write with confidence. I think I’ll go lay* down.

*Wrong, wrong and wrong. I think.


7 comments on “Riddle Me This #5

  1. Creative license I can tolerate and even approve of, but when someone can’t master their/there/they’re, to/two/too or your/you’re, well then, they’re are just begging to be part of the WIDTS blog.

  2. RJ says:

    People also love to make everything possessive when they should be making it plural… bugs me a lot.

  3. rackofribs says:

    I know what you mean. It bug’s me too.

  4. peachyteachy says:

    Possessive “its” is my favorite. “The dog licked it’s butt,” just loses impact when you realize that you have just said, “The dog licked it is butt.” On the other hand, I reserve the right to misuse and abuse ellipses with alarming frequency. . .

  5. seapunk2 says:

    My favorite is their, there and they’re. There, I’ve said it. 🙂

  6. mgrella says:

    This is one of my pet peeves. It drives me out of my ever-loving mind to see educated adults, or current students who should know better, update their statuses on Facebook, or Twitter, or text messaging with misspellings left and right. What would their English teachers say?! Some of these people are parents! They must, or should, know proper, basic English!!! Although, I do think who, whom, and whose ought to get a pass. I never remember when to use which. Hahaha!!!

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