It's Thursday, and it's time for another installment in my English teacher series.
So far, we've discussed these issues:
Last week I asked readers to ask questions and to suggest subjects for these posts. I really want to address grammatical issues that are interesting to y'all. Thank you all for commenting. Several commenters said that they like to use a conversational tone in their blogs, so sometimes they use incorrect grammar on purpose.
I do that, too. I think it's perfectly acceptable to write blog posts conversationally, and sometimes that will mean that we break the rules of formal grammar. For example, I often include sentence fragments in my blog posts. Those would earn big red marks on an English paper, but blog posts are not English papers. So I certainly encourage you not to think in terms of trying to achieve grammatical perfection. That's not the goal, not by any stretch of the imagination.
I can't say this enough: the goal is communication, and grammar is simply a tool to help us communicate.
Today, we'll look at an issue suggested by one of last week's commenters: the use of there and their. And for good measure, we'll throw in they're as well.
Once again, this is an issue that exists only in written communication, not in spoken communication. There, their, and they're sound alike, so if you're speaking, no one will know if you're using the correct form. Your listeners will hear the correct word. But if you're writing, it's up to you to choose the correct word.
Here's the scoop on these three words.
There is an amazingly versatile word. It can be used
--as an adverb that indicates place:
Hang your backpacks over there.
--as a pronoun:
There is no point in arguing.
--as an adjective:
Give your money to that woman there.
--as an interjection:
There! I'm so glad that's over!
A good way to remember whether there is the word you want is see if you can mentally replace it with the word here. The words here and there have different meanings, but they're grammatically interchangeable. This is easy to remember, because you can see the word here right inside the word there.
Sometimes you'll use the word there in combination with the verb is. The contraction of those two words is there's. Use this word only when you mean to say there is.
Their is a simpler word. It has only one use: it's the possessive form of the pronoun they. Use it only when you mean to say that something belongs to them. For example:
- Their house is at the end of the street.
- Would you mow their lawn while they're out of town?
- They're really using their heads.
The property is rightfully theirs.
But remember, apostrophes are used to form the possessive form of nouns, not of personal pronouns. So if you see the word their's, you'll know it's wrong.
And the last word in this troublesome trio: they're. They're is simply a contraction of the two words they and are.
- They're so happy to be home!
- Did you know they're leaving?
Thank you to Jennifer Juniper for suggesting a lesson on what she called "the there/their circus." Jennifer was Commenter #9 last week, and she's the winner of the giveaway. Jennifer, send me an email with your mailing address, and I'll send your bookmark to you right away!
Please let me know if you have any questions you'd like me to answer in this series. I want this series to be helpful, so please tell me if there's any way it could be more beneficial to you. And thanks for reading! I'm so happy to have you here!