Monday, 22 June 2015

Grammar with the Geek #1: They're, There, Their & Other Confusing Words

You might remember the first People Who Annoy Me post I did on this blog, almost two years ago. Yes, it was about grammar killers. And although I hated - and still hate - the fact that people take grammar for granted, I realise now that I never did anything about it.

Well, it's time to change that.

Welcome to the first ever Grammar with the Geek! One of my friends (who is also a loyal reader of the blog) suggested that I make use of my not-so-bad language skills by helping other people hone theirs.

I can already hear your excuses for not wanting to read this post:
"Swati, I'm studying engineering. What does grammar have to do with my future career?"
"Whatever you're name is, I'm a writer on Wattpad. I know my grammer."
"Geekie chick, your blog is boring me."

Well, tough luck. Engineer, you can't climb up the career ladder with a typo on your resume. Wattpad writer, you don't know the first thing about 'grammer'. Loyal reader, there are still many funny GIFs and memes in this post, so don't worry.

I've decided to start from the very, very basics of grammar: similar sounding words that most people on my Facebook feed tend to mix up.
Read on to find out the difference between there, their and they're, you're and your, it's and its, then and than, and (finally) affect and effect.

1) There, Their, They're

Use 'there' when you're talking about a place. Use 'their' as a possessive pronoun. Use they're when you don't feel like saying 'they are'. Simple enough, right? But people still mix them up. I wonder why.
Situation: Ron and Harry are going to the Chamber of Secrets to find Ginny's dead body.
Answer: They're going there to find their friend's dead body.

2) Your vs You're

Use 'your' as a possessive pronoun. Use 'you're' when social convention dictates that using 'you are' is too formal (i.e., most of the time).
This is possibly the most common grammatical error people make, but no worries! It's easy as pie.
Situation: Loyal Reader is wondering where their Hogwarts letter went.
Answer: You're (you are) wondering where your Hogwarts letter went.

3) It's vs Its

Use 'it's' when you want to say either 'it is' or 'it has', and use 'its' as a possessive pronoun.
When you think about it, all these mix-ups are because of one simple reason: people don't know the difference between contractions and possessive pronouns.
Situation: John Watson left the military service many years ago, but the memories are yet to leave him.
Usage: It's been three years since John Watson left the military service, but its memories continue to haunt him.

4) Then vs Than

Use 'then' when you're talking about time or a condition (if... then). Use 'than' when you're comparing two things, people or situations.
Situation: After listening to Gale's proposal, Katniss turned him down because Peeta was much more worthy of her.
Usage: Katniss waited patiently for Gale to finish his boring proposal, and then said, "Peeta is a hundred times better than you, especially after the spoilerific events of Mockingjay Part 2. Sorry."

5) Affect vs Effect

I'll admit that this one is tricky, and not always applicable. So in most cases, use 'affect' as a verb and 'effect' as a noun.
Things could go the other way, though, but that's far too advanced for this first lesson.
Situation: Hermione used a potion on her bushy hair and Ron suddenly found her attractive.
Usage: The after-effects of Sleekeazy's Potion on Hermione's hair affected the way Ron saw her.

That was quick, simple and educational, was it not? Plus, I've always wanted to use grammar memes on the blog.

Anyway, is there anything else you have trouble with? Leave a comment below and help me decide which grammatical error to tackle in the next installment of Grammar with the Geek!



  1. These are some of my grammatical pet peeves as well!

  2. Thanks for clear examples. It`s more easier learn English if examples are from your favorite films!)

  3. Very funny post!!! I also can make some mistakes in my grammar but to avoid mistakes I prefer using grammar checker software program. It is very effective and it is easy in use.

  4. Thanks for sharing helpful information, I really like your all post. I will bookmark your blog for future updates. picbear


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