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.