I’ll admit it–I’m a proud officer of the Grammar Police. In the defense of every offender out there, English grammar is ridiculously complicated. The higher-level stuff is way over my head, but I thought I’d write a quick refresher on the basics. As an enforcer of the law, it’s my duty to help keep you all out of jail, right? Right! Let’s begin!
1.) A Lot
It’s two words, not one. I’ll be honest, it took me a long time to remember this one. None of my teachers corrected me until high school…
2.) Their, There, They’re
Ah, the most common grammar mistake I’ve ever seen. The only way I can properly explain the difference is through examples, so bear with me. I’ll start with ‘their’.
‘Their’ is possessive. If you’re trying to say that two or more people have something in common, then this is the word to use. For example:
- Their luggage was misplaced at the airport.
- I can’t believe their teacher died so suddenly!
- I think their last name is Roberts, isn’t it?
- Did you see their clothes? They must be rich!
‘There’ is most often used to give directions, but there are other purposes (ha! Get it?). Just remember: never use ‘there’ when you’re talking about people. It’s the same as never calling someone a ‘that’.
- I put your luggage over there, in the living room.
- Is that the school over there?
- There’s no way I’m doing that!
- Are you sure he’s there?
‘They’re’ is just a shortened version of ‘they are’. Unlike ‘their’, it’s not possessive.
- They’re coming over for Christmas, right?
- I can’t believe they’re so late!
- I’m sorry, but they’re on vacation right now.
- Are you sure they’re coming?
3.) You, Your, You’re
These follow the same rules as #2. You = there, your = their, and you’re =they’re. In this case, you’re talking about one person and not multiple people, though.
- You said the homework’s due tomorrow, right?
- Is that your car?
- You’re coming to my party this weekend, aren’t you?
- Didn’t you say your brother is coming to visit?
4.) Affect and Effect
‘Affect’ is a verb. When someone’s actions impacts someone else, then they affect that person.
‘Effect’ is the actual impact.
- How has your father affected your life?
- The oil spill affected the local environment.
- The effects of the war were terrible.
5.) Loose, lose, loss
‘Loose’ means something isn’t tight. The rope was loose, the screw was loose, etc.
‘Lose’ means not winning or misplacing something. The past-tense form is ‘Lost’.
- I did lose the game, but I don’t regret entering the tournament.
- Did you lose your wedding ring?
‘Loss’ is what you didn’t win or what your misplaced.
- The game was our loss.
- It’s my loss, not yours.
6.) Its and It’s.
‘Its’ is the possessive form of ‘it’.
- Its wings are blue and white.
- I wonder if its alarm is loud.
- Its red signal means ‘stop’.
‘It’s’ is a shortened version of ‘it is’.
- It’s never too late to sign up.
- It’s not time yet?
- I think it’s time I headed home.
7.) Too and To
Last one, I promise!
‘Too’ means that you’re agreeing with someone or you’ve done something similar to what they’ve done. Some examples:
- I’ve gone to Hawaii, too!
- Are you going too?
- We should go on a cruise, too.
If you’re asking a question, you don’t need a comma before the ‘too’. If you’re making a statement, then use the comma.
‘To’ is usually a direction or command.
- Are you going to the zoo?
- It’s time to go, kids.