Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Remedial Grammar

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grown folk... please, please, please, figure out the difference between "your" and "you're." We are to old to be (yes I and intentionally using "be" as a verb/action word) messing up what I consider to be basic usage of the English language. At least once a day I see professional confuse the meaning of your and you're. So in an effort to keep Sister Delores's ( my grade school English teacher) head from spinning...take not eon the proper usage or your and you're.

A frighteningly large percentage of individuals fail to understand the difference between the words "you're" and "your". Here is a quick and dirty crash course on this common usage problem.

Understand the proper usage of the word you're. It is a contraction, or a combination of the words you and are. Other examples of contractions include doesn't, they're, and can't.
"You're a good friend." ("YOU ARE a good friend.")

"I don't know what you're talking about." ("I don't know what YOU ARE talking about.")

Understand the proper usage of the word your. The word your is the possessive form of you, referring to something that a person has, or something that belongs to the person in discussion [or, the person you are talking to].

"Is your stomach growling?"

"Your book is on the table."

Take a look at some examples. Each of the following examples shows an incorrect use of your/you're, and why it is incorrect.

"I can't read you're handwriting."
Incorrect because the contraction for "you are" is being used as the possessive form of you. It should be replaced with "your". Would "I can't read you are handwriting" make sense?

"If your hungry, then you should probably eat something."
Incorrect because there is no possession in question. This should be replaced with you're, or you are. Would "If my hungry..." make sense?

"Your very smart."
Again, incorrect. The "very smart" does not belong to the person that you are talking to — this doesn't make any sense. Replace your with you're, or you are.

Keep in mind that the word your will never be followed by the words the, a, or an.
Remember that the word your will usually not be followed by an adjective [a word that describes], when that adjective is describing the person that you are talking to. In other words, saying "Your very kind" or "Your stupid" will almost never be correct. "Your very kind" or "your stupid" would be correct if they were describing a noun.
"Your nice son brought me my coat."
Here, your nice is correct because nice is describing the person's son.

Remember that you're is actually a combination of two words and thus fulfills two very important roles in a sentence or clause. Because it includes both a pronoun and a verb, you're will always be the subject and at least part of the verb of any clause in which it appears.

Try replacing “your” or “you’re” with “you are” if you are unsure which to use. If the sentence makes sense, use “you’re.” Remember that only “you’re” is a contraction, and it omits the letter “a.” The apostrophe in “you’re” signifies the omission of the letter “a.” If the sentence does not make sense, you will know to use “your.”

For example:
“You’re a good writer!” → “You are a good writer!”“You are” makes sense in this sentence, so you can use “you’re.”
”I cannot read you're handwriting.” → "I cannot read you are handwriting."“You are” does not make sense in this sentence, so you should use “your.”

Try not to think that proper writing is strictly "academic". It makes you appear more intelligent. More importantly, it eliminates the risk of bad habits "slipping out" in situations in which it is critical to convey properness, such as writing a college essay or a job résumé.


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