It astounds me how few people, even smart people, consistently get these right. This post is catharsis for my pent-up copy editing angst.

– – –

It’s “definitely,” not “definately” or “defenitely” or “deffinitley.”

It’s “yeah,” not “yah” or “ya.”

– – –

For “you are,” it’s “you’re.” [You’re coming with me.]

“Your” shows something that belongs to you. [Is that your book?]

– – –

“There” is for location. [Look over there!]

“They’re” is “they are.” [They’re not interested.]

“Their” shows something that belongs to others. [That’s their car.]

– – –

“Who’s” is “who is.” [Do you know who’s speaking today?]

“Whose” shows that something belongs to a “who.” [Whose shoes are these?]

– – –

“It’s” is “it is.” Only and always. [It’s time to go.]

“Its” shows something that belongs to an “it.” [The dog chased its tail.]

– – –

There is no such word as “I’s.”

WRONG: “This room is her and I’s.”

RIGHT: “This room is hers and mine.”

WRONG: “He and I’s friends are coming.”

RIGHT: “His and my friends are coming.”


3 thoughts on “Spellcheck

  1. Erica B says:

    Yes! It’s great to see someone else who seems as crazy about language and grammar as I can be (and that’s meant only in the nicest possible way!)
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Dan says:

    Here’s a cross-linguistic example of the same for you:

    “Je c’est,” (literally, “I it’s”) in place of, “Je sais.” (I know.) Though I have to admit, I saw this on a message board about how to emigrate from Maghreb to France so the author might have been a non-native speaker.

    What’s interesting to me about these mistakes that we’ve all encountered (and committed) from time to time isn’t that they’re mistakes, but that they reveal something about human linguistic capacity: the ability to spell is a distant second to the ability to recognize the sounds of one’s language. Why do we mix up there, their and they’re? They sound the same. Why do we screw up the vowels in the middle of definitely? They are both schwas, a sound that is represented by every English vowel in one word or another. Of course, if writers thought of the pronunciation of “finite,” they might remember how to spell it.

    The last one is special though, an altering of case. I’ve never noticed it, but I do think I’ve heard it before. Thanks for blogging!

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