On defending incorrect usage, I say: *You’re* bonkers

21 Feb

As a lover of the English language, I have a hard time swallowing the fact that people my age (or any age beyond 10) don’t know the difference between your and you’re. I feel like of all the words regularly confused — its and it’s; their, there and they’re — the difference between your and you’re is easiest to keep straight. Maybe I’m wrong.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The breakdown:

  • You’re = You are. “I think you’re swell.”
  • Your = NOT you are. (The possessive, instead.) “I like your swellness.*”

I become Hulk-style enraged when people try to defend themselves if I point out a mis-use — as if in some way it’s justified that they don’t know basic English rules, or that I’m out of line for explaining its correct usage. (Yes, I point it out. I’m not ashamed to help people look smarter.)

I told a pal recently that she’d used your incorrectly in an email to a potential date she’d found on match.com. She retorted, “Sorry … I’m not an English major!” I was stunned. Firstly, because I’ve told her the difference a trillion times (and she works in the schools, so I feel like it’s my civic duty). But, secondly, because she thought only an English major would know this distinction. It’s just like learning 2+2=4. Sure, we all have our talents, and maybe English wasn’t your best subject, but this is just a fact, man. (Or, in this case, woman.)

She went on to say that if any potential mate judged her on grammar, she wouldn’t want to date him anyway. I tried to explain it’s the little things that distract people and can damage credibility — whether through a dating site or when applying for a job or even writing web copy. Unless you’re communicating with someone who doesn’t know the differences, either. Then, you’re golden.

I see errors everywhere from Facebook walls to Twitter messages to emails. Because it’s correctable, it boggles my mind that people don’t just take the extra 10 seconds to make sure they’re straight with their writing. I mean, we all make mistakes. But defending laziness is just bonkers.

* I made up this word for illustrative purposes. Sue me. Please don’t.


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