Updated: Mar 25, 2020
A while back (actually like 10 years ago now!) I started writing a grammar or spelling related post every Monday, and called it "Grammar Mondays." I kept it up for about one year. Here they are (most of them):
You're is a contraction of YOU and ARE, as in, "You're (you are) an odd bird!" Your is the possessive form of "you," referring to something that a person HAS, as in, "Is that your odd bird?" You should be able to replace this with "my" and have the sentence still make sense (Is that MY odd bird?!).
Lose is pronounced like it has a Z in it (loo-z), and means to misplace something, as in, "Did you LOSE your pants again?!" Loose is pronounced with an S sound (loo-s), and means the opposite of tight, as in, "Well, obviously the knot you tied in your belt was too LOOSE."
Too, Two or To? If you're able to replace the word with "also" or "overly" use TOO, as in, "I hate it when people say 'OMG' too (also)!" or "I'm too (overly) old for this sh*t." If the word is the number 2, use TWO. Otherwise, use TO, either before a noun, indicating travel to a place (I'm going to the bathroom) or followed by a verb (because I need to pee).
S or 'S - When you pluralize a word, just add an S on the end, so book becomes books, NOT book's. If you are indicating possession, referring to something that a person or thing HAS, use an apostrophe, as in, "That is Tate's book, so don't touch it" (Tate HAS/owns the book) or "The book's author is American" (the book HAS an author).
Bring or Take? You ask people to BRING things to the place you are, and TAKE things to the place you are going - i.e., you bring things here and take things there. So you'd say, "Can you take me to the airport?" and not "Can you bring me to the airport?" You COULD say "Can you bring the airport to me?" ...but doing it might be tricky.
The abbreviation I.E. means "that is," as in the sentence, "I like to eat things that swim (i.e., fish)," from the Latin ID EST, meaning "That is to say." The abbreviation E.G. means "for example," as in the sentence, "I like to eat some types of fish (e.g., salmon and tuna)," from the Latin EXEMPLI GRATIA, meaning "For the sake of example."
"Isn't it Ironic?" No, it's not ironic, Alanis. It's coincidental. IRONY: Something is funny or weird because of who/what it happens to, like a fire station catching on fire. COINCIDENCE: Something happens unexpectedly along with another thing, like two fire stations catching on fire on the same day. The second example also has the potential to be ARSON, which is a different thing altogether.
Affect vs. Effect. The majority of the time you use affect as a verb and effect as a noun. Affect means "to influence," as in, "The rain affected (verb) Amy's afro." Effect generally carries the meaning of "a result," as in "The rain had no effect (noun) on Amy's afro."
Dessert vs. Desert... Bakeries sell desserts. Africa has deserts. Think of it this way - the one you EAT has two S's, because you'd pretty much always rather have two desserts instead of one, right? However, you could probably do with just ONE dry, sandy, arid wasteland of a desert, with just one S.
"Could of," "would of" & "must of" are always wrong. The correct wording is Could Have, Would Have & Must Have, which can contract into could've, would've & must've, as in "I would've called you if I could've found my phone, but I must've lost it at that awesome Whitney Houston concert" (hey, why not). Note: Some sources say could've & must've are incorrect & have to be written out as two words. Either way, using "of" is not right.
Its or It's? ITS is a possessive pronoun, as in, "Has Facebook lost its mojo?" IT'S is a contraction of IT and IS or IT and HAS, as in, "It's (it is) a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!" or "It's (it has) been real, man." The quick & easy test: Read the sentence aloud and substitute "it is" for your its/it's... If that sounds goofy, you should be using its, not it's.
Climactic vs Climatic. CLIMACTIC, with the extra C, comes from the word climax, and refers to a high point. CLIMATIC, without the extra C, comes from the word climate, and refers to the weather. "The CLIMACTIC moment in Al Gore's movie on CLIMATIC change was when _______." (You'll have to fill in the blank because I never saw it... and I'm guessing it didn't really have many climactic moments. Lots of climatic moments. Not so much with the climactic moments.)
Stationary vs. Stationery. STATIONARY, with an A = You are not moving. STATIONERY, with an E = Paper. How can you remember this? StationERy and papER both have -ER endings. Or you can recite that age-old adage, "Don't eat stationery while you are stationary." (What, you don't know that one?)
Disinterested vs Uninterested. DISINTERESTED = without a stake in. UNINTERESTED = without a care about. See below for four options.
- OPTION 1: I am disinterested, but not uninterested = I care but I have no stake in the matter. "I care who wins the World Series, but I have no money riding on it." - OPTION 2: I am uninterested, but not disinterested = I know I have a stake in the matter but I really don't care. "I know that U.S. tax policies affect me, but I really don't want to hear about the." - OPTION 3: I am not disinterested OR uninterested = I care and I have a stake in the matter. "I hope no one smashes my pumpkin tonight, because I like it, and because I don't want to have to clean up a mess outside my house." - OPTION 4: I am disinterested AND uninterested = I don't care and I have no stake in the matter. "Justin Bieber could fall off a cliff, for all I care."
ANY ONE: any member of a group - Can any one of you tell me what kind of cake I’m having for my birthday? ANYONE: anybody - Anyone can guess. EVERY ONE: each one - I could eat every one of those cakes. EVERYONE: everybody - Everyone told me to stop eating cake. ANY MORE: something additional - I don’t want any more cake. ANYMORE: any longer/nowadays - I never eat cake anymore.
THAN is the word you want when doing comparisons. If you are talking about time, choose THEN. For example, First you separate the eggs; then you beat the whites. But, Alexis is smarter than me, not then me.
The fourth/forth of July? FOURTH relates to the number four (4), between third and fifth. The word "four" can be seen in the word. The word FORTH, without a U, means "forward" or "onward" (from this day forth, go forth) or to "come into view" (come forth). These are both different from the word "Fore," which people yell when they play golf. I don't know why (because I don't care).
Continual versus Continuous. CONTINUAL means “happening over and over again”; CONTINUOUS means “happening constantly, without stopping.” If you're continually online, it means you keep going on the Internet over & over again. If you're continuously on the Internet, it means you've never gotten off of it. Ever.
"A whole nother?" Nope. Nother is not a word. You are confusing "a whole other" with "another." The A at the beginning of the phrase is the common article A, but here it is treated like it's also the first letter of another, interrupted by whole. So, yes to these: "He is living in another world" or "He is living in a whole other world." No to this: "He is living in a whole nother world."
That or Which? Restrictive clause = essential to the meaning of the sentence. "My car THAT IS BLUE goes very fast." There's more than 1 car. The one THAT'S BLUE is fast. Non-restrictive clause = can be left out w/o changing the meaning of the sentence. "My car, WHICH IS BLUE, goes very fast." The fact that the car is blue is just additional information. There's only 1 car. It is fast. It also happens to be blue.
Between or among? Generally speaking, you will be safe if you use BETWEEN for two things and AMONG for more than two. "I am trying to choose between The Goonies and The Breakfast Club " versus "I am trying to choose among the many fabulous 80's movies on Netflix."
There, their, or they're? If you use THERE, the sentence should still make sense when you replace the word with HERE. If you use THEIR, the sentence should still make sense when you replace the word with OUR. If you use THEY'RE, the sentence should still make sense when you replace the word with THEY ARE.
Sit vs. Set. Remember watching Family Ties or Taxi & the closing tag had a picture of a dog with a frisbee, & a voice said, "Sit, Ubu, sit... Good dog." That's how you can remember the difference between sit & set. Sit is the action of sitting down. You tell a dog to sit. Set requires an object that you are putting somewhere, like, "Please SET it on the table." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlAVcHBMxO0&feature=related
You are conscious when you are awake, or aware of something. You have something on your conscience when you feel guilty. "My CONSCIENCE tells me I should not have knocked that guy unCONSCIOUS." Conscience has the word SCIENCE in it because conscience comes from the Latin "with (con) knowledge (science)," and implies INTERNAL awareness, or knowledge of oneself.
Labor/Labour Day. American -OR ending: From Latin, used in Old English. British -OUR ending: From French, used after Norman conquest of UK. Noah Webster of dictionary fame helped standardize American English, publishing words w/ -or ending only, to "restore words to their genuine English spelling" (i.e., the Old English derivative).
It's grateful. Not greatful. Grateful is the adjective that derives from gratitude, hence the spelling. The words great & greatly are the adjectives that derive from the word greatness. Greatful is not a word.
WEATHER = Rain wind sun clouds snow etc! It has the word EAT in it, kinda like, "I enjoy eating snow flakes. They are part of the weather." WHETHER = A conjunction introducing a choice. "I don't know whether or not to pay attention to Grammar Monday" (well, of course you should!). WETHER = A castrated male sheep. Bet you didn't know that one!
PRINCIPAL is always the most important, biggest or main thing/person, either when used as a noun - "I had to go see the Principal (head of the school)," or "I had to pay off the principal sum (main/original amount) of my loan" - or as an adjective - "The principal (most important) thing to remember is..." PRINCIPLE is always a noun and means a rule or standard, like "I've got principles (standards), man."
Addition vs. Edition: Think of Addition as an "also" or a + sign, like in adding (addition, also & adding start with A). "I have Facebook in addition to Twitter" or "I am good at addition: 700 friends + 300 followers =1,000 people who really don't care what I ate for breakfast." Edition is something that is edited or published (edition & edited both start with E), like the monthly edition of a magazine.
Less or Fewer? LESS = not as much, i.e., things you can't count out. "I have less (not as much) wine now because we drank it last night." FEWER = not as many, i.e., things you can count. "I have fewer (not as many) wine glasses now because we threw them out the window last night." ....You wouldn't say "I don't have as much wine glasses" or "I don't have as many wine," right? (Unless, perhaps, you were actually in the process of drinking all my wine)
Our and Are = Two words that sound similar, but... OUR is an adjective, the possessive form of "we," as in, "We like to eat our Wheaties." (Not to be confused with HOUR, as in seconds, minutes, hours). ARE is a verb, a conjugation of "to be," as in, "We are eating Wheaties" or "To be or not to be.... You are always asking that question."
Daylight SAVINGS or Daylight SAVING Time? Technically, it's the latter. You are SAVING daylight (not SAVINGS daylight) by adding more usable hours of daylight in the winter months. Most likely the extra S snuck in with the idea that there are monetary SAVINGS on energy/electricity when we turn the clocks back (more usable daylight hours, therefore fewer hours when you need lights on).
Homonym or Homophone? A HOMONYM is a word that is spelled the same as another, but pronounced differently, like a tear (running down your cheek) and to tear (a piece of paper in half). A HOMOPHONE is a word that is pronounced the same as another, but spelled differently, like a new (pair of shoes for Christmas) and I knew (something he didn't).
PRECEDENT vs. PRESIDENT. They do not sound the same, they are not spelled the same, and they do not mean the same thing... that is to say, they are NOT interchangeable! The 'prec' of precedent sounds like press. Precedent = "an act in the past that may be used as an example to help decide the outcome of similar instances in the future." The 'pres' of president sounds like prez. President = well, you know.... President Obama, and such. Or President George Washington, known as the "Precedent President" because he set the precedent for all future presidents.
The singular of species is SPECIES. Not speci or specie. In fact, specie is a separate word meaning coin money. So... One species. Two species. Red species. Blue species. (This one has a little car. This one has a little star. Say! What a lot of species there are!)
Palate, Pallet, or Palette? Your PALATE is the roof of your mouth or your sense of taste. It has one L and one T, which stand for Lip-smackin and Tasty. A PALLET is a bed or type of shipping platform. It has two L’s because LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out, and if he did, you’d be laying in bed for a long while. A PALETTE is a set of colors or the board an artist uses to hold paint. It has two T’s because... Well, I read somewhere that there are “Two T’s of Painting” - Theory & Technique.
Capital vs Capitol. CAPITOL with an O only ever has one meaning – a building. That is, a US State legislature building, or the US Capitol building in DC. If it’s any other kind of CAPITAL, it’s with an A. Example – “I will never remember the capital (center of government) of each state, but I know they all start with a capital (that’s the caps lock on your keyboard!) letter, and they all wish they had more capital (money/funds).”
I will just tell you this to close: It's afterward, not afterwards. It's toward, not towards. It's en route, not in route. It's welt, not welp. It's regardless, not irregardless. (THAT SAID, when does an error, made by enough people over enough time, become the standard?)