Prepositional Phrases Teaching

Avoiding Common Spelling and Grammar Mix-Ups

English is a complicated language and there are countless ways to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, even professional writers. The problem is that simple errors can have big consequences. Something as silly as mixing up there and their can lower grades in an essay, drop a manuscript to the bottom of the pile, or even send a resume to the garbage.

The good news is that most of these common errors can be fixed with just a bit of extra thought. Nobody wants to miss out on better opportunities because of little mistakes. Here are just a few simple, but all too common, errors.

Your vs. You’re

A very common mistake, with a very easy solution. Just ask, Can I replace this with ‘you are?’

Your is possessive, while you’re is a contraction of you are.

Correct: Is that your book? The book belongs to someone. A person wouldn’t ask Is that you are book? Therefore, the correct spelling must be your.

Incorrect: Your here! That implies that ‘here’ belongs to the person being addressed. One can also say You are here! That phrase can be shortened to You’re here. In this case, you’re is the correct word.

Other examples: Now that you’re here, I can give you your book.

Their, They’re, and There

Two of these words present the same problem, and the same solution, as you’re and your. This error can often be made even by a professional essay help writer. Their is possessive and they’re is a contraction of they are. The same examples apply.

Correct: Is that their book? Once again, the book belongs to someone. You wouldn’t ask, is that they are book? So the correct spelling is their.

Incorrect: Their here! If you can say They are here! Then the correct spelling would be they’re.

To use both: Now that they’re here, I can give them their book.

Things get a little more complicated when a third word is added to the mix: there. There is a place.

Correct: Who does the book over there belong to? The book is in a location and that location is expressed by using there.

Incorrect: Is that there book? There here! The book’s location isn’t being asked. The question is about the owners of the book, not the location. The second is a statement about who is arriving. Saying there here is listing two locations.

All three used correctly: There they are! Now that they’re here, I can give them their book, which is over there.

To, Too, and Two

Three tiny, simple words, with very different meanings. You can give something to someone. While too is another way of writing as well. Two is the spelling of the number 2.

Correct: Will you give the book to her? The object, the book, is being given to a person.

Correct: Give her this book too. There is a second book being given. If you can say give her this as well, then you should use too.

Correct: Give her these two books. There are two (2) books to give to her. Two is always the spelling of the number.

Incorrect: Give this two her and give her this to.

All three used correctly: Will you give these two books to her too? What does that mean? Will you give these 2 books to her as well.

Then and Than

The only difference is one letter, but the meanings are very different. Than can be used to compare things, while then defines time.

Correct: I went to the bookstore, then I went home. This sentence is describing the time that something took place. Then is used to explain that going home took place after going to the bookstore.

Incorrect: I would rather go to the bookstore then the grocery store. The sentence actually means, I would rather go to the bookstore first and then go to the grocery store. If the person is trying to explain that they like the bookstore more than the grocery store, then they should say than. Whew!

Another example: I would rather go to the bookstore than the grocery store, and then go home.

Bear and Bare

You might say, that’s easy! A bear is a big fuzzy animal and bare means naked! But do you bear or bare arms? Do you bare with someone or bear with them? The easiest way to remember this one is, are we getting naked?

Correct: Please, bear with me. In this case, bear is not the animal, but a verb. If you were to say bare with me, you would be saying naked with me. That’s probably not the right question.

Incorrect: The second amendment is the right to bare arms. The right to bare arms would be the right to wear short sleeves. The only usage of bare is when something is lacking something.

Correct: I know the walls are bare, but bear with me until I can paint them.

Should’ve, Could’ve, Would’ve, and Should of, Could of, and Would of

The last words that are often used incorrectly are different from all of the previous ones. In the previous cases the words were homophones – words that sound the same but have different meanings. In this case, three of our six words do not exist.

Should’ve is a contraction of should have. Just as could’ve is could have and would’ve is would have. When spoken out loud these words can sound like the word of is attached. This is not the case. These three words are contractions and should always be followed be ‘ve.

Correct: I should’ve done my homework sooner. I could’ve done it when I got home, then I would’ve finished it already. One can also say, I should have done my homework sooner. I could have done it when I got home, then I would have finished it already. None of these can be followed by of.

Incorrect: I should of done it. I could of done it when I got home, I would of finished it already. With some dialects this sounds identical to the previous example when spoken. The problem is that when written, we see that it is grammatically incorrect. The word of is being used to replace have, which is just not correct.

The Importance of Proper Grammar and Spelling

Even though these seem like simple mistakes, they can negatively impact how a writer’s work is received. Some writers may even lose readers and popularity if their work is too riddled by little errors.