Today, my students suggested more words for our “The Word’s the Thing” blog posting from yesterday.
They are fond of the misuse of the word “there.” Or is it “their?” Or “they’re?” The first incarnation means “over there, next to the really cute guy (or gal).” The second is possessive, like “their books.” The third is the contraction of “they are,” as in “they are going with us.”
One of my favorites is “our” and “are,” though “whether” and “weather” should not be neglected. And one must not forget “its” or “to.”
Here are examples for the recently-mentioned words:
First up,”our” and “are.” “It is our hometown.” In this case, you are saying that you and I have something, like a hometown. “Are you going to the movies with us?” You would not say “It is are hometown,” unless you were having a very bad day at word-smithing school.
“We are going whether or not you do” instead of “The weather is going to be bad tonight.” The first case indicates that they are going somewhere without you, while the second case is talking about the humidity, the chance of rain or snow, and the temperature.
Oh, my stars, “its” is next. “Its” is the possessive form of “it.” No possessive apostrophe is needed for this one word. “The lion put its paw into the cake batter.” If a lion is anywhere nearby, I am not checking its sex. It is an “it” no matter what circumstances may otherwise indicate. I am out of there!
If you write “it’s,” you mean “it is.” You wouldn’t say “The lion put “it is” paw in the cake batter,” so don’t write it.
Finally, the beloved “two,” “too,” or “to.” The word “two” means one more than one and one less than three. For example, “I have two oatmeal raisin cookies.” Yum! the word “too” means “too little” or “too much.” “I have had too much cake.” (It’s hard to have too much cake, in my opinion.) Finally, we have the word “to.” It is a preposition and can be used to indicate where you are going or direction: “I am going to the store” or “he gave it to her.”
I hope this helps. (I don’t mean to insult anyone, but I have seen these words misused by seniors in college.)