(There will be more – these are just the ones I’ve noticed this week!)
Following on from last week’s apostrophe angst, here are some sets of homophones (words that sound the same but are spelt differently) that I have noticed being misused on my social media feeds this week.
Your / you’re
Perhaps what throws people about this pair is the fact that it is the reverse of the possessive apostrophe rule. ‘Your‘ = ‘belonging to you’ while the apostrophised ‘you’re‘ is a contraction of ‘you are’ (so it does still adhere to the normal apostrophe rule).
Similarly, their / they’re
‘Their‘ = ‘belonging to them‘, while ‘they’re’ is a contraction of ‘they are’. This set of homophones is complicated by the addition of a third – ‘there’ – which seems to be the most popular pick of the three (usually doing double or even triple duty for all the meanings) when in fact it has nothing to do with those other people (they) but in fact refers to a place – over there. It might be helpful to remember that ‘there‘ (the place) shares most of its spelling with ‘where’.
I saw a mouse!
There on the stair!
Where on the stair?
A little mouse with clogs on.
Well I declare!
Going clip-clippety-clop on the stair.
I had planned to stop there, for today, until I noticed this van parked across the road and felt that I must add a third set of homophones.
Two / to / too
‘Two‘ is the text form of the number 2, memorable if you think what it becomes when you multiply by 10. ‘Twenty‘ has a w and so should ‘two‘.
‘To‘ is a preposition or a particle (in either case, a function word) indicating the relationship between objects, places, events, etc., and 9 times out of 10 it’s going to be this spelling you want.
‘Too‘ simply means ‘excess‘ or ‘also‘, e.g. ‘too cold‘ or ‘me too‘.
Please check your writing. Especially if you’re going to spend three figures having a description of your business inscribed semi-permanently on your vehicle or building. Mistakes degrade the perception of your business, and help is both available and affordable.