Good morning, Lucites! (Meh. I still don’t love that.) I SAID GOOD MORNING! You haven’t had your coffee yet, have you? Well, drink up. Could you PUT any more sugar in there? I mean, seriously, you know that once you put too much sugar in there it reaches some sort of scientific saturation point or something and you just get a soggy mess of coffee sugar at the bottom, right? Or is that what you’re going for? I mean, if it is, go to. Who am I to stop the march of progress?
Today, we’re going to talk about something very near and dear to my heart. No, not cake. No, not turtles. No, NOT Joss Whedon. STOP SHOUTING THINGS OUT. This isn’t the Republican Presidential Candidate Debates, what the hell.
Ooh, stop SHRINKING AWAY IN FEAR. Grammar is your FRIEND.
Well, grammar is SOME of you people’s friend. And honestly, it’s the friend of most people who read my blog, because I think most people who read this wouldn’t stick around long if they weren’t at least semi-literate. That was a total pat on the back and kind of rude. Really, what I meant was, I write a lot, and if you’re not into reading all the words and such, you might have clicked here once, then moved on, because you would be frightened by the loquaciousness. And that’s ok. I’m totally kind of scary. I get that.
But there are other people out there who have fights with grammar every day, like total schoolyard BULLIES of grammar. And grammar doesn’t like that! Grammar wants you to love it! Grammar’s totally slutty, y’all. It wants you to use it. But it is not a cheap whore! It does NOT want you to abuse it! No, no!
So let’s go over some common grammar mistakes. I know these are going to seem like “blah blah, I GRADUATED FROM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AMY” to some of you. Most of you. But think of the people who are searching Google someday for help on these things. I would like if they found my blog and it was a reference. That would be nice! Like, once? Someone found my blog because they wanted help with pie charts? And how nice was that, I was totally helpful. I like to think that some high school kid was all “I AM THE GREATEST” that day in school because of me. So today we’re doing GRAMMAR. Also, have you SEEN the internet lately? It makes you want to set your eyeballs on fire with cooking oil.
It’s vs. its
Let’s start small. “It’s” is a contraction. A contraction is when a letter, or more than one letter, is dropped from a word, and then it is conjoined with ANOTHER word, using an apostrophe. That’s a lot of talking, right? It’s = IT IS. See? See how easy that is? You take out the “i” from “is” and SMOOOOSH together the two words and add an apostrophe and you have a contraction. Other contractions, not to muddy the waters, are “they’re”, “we’re”, “aren’t”, etc. You get this, right? I mean, “it’s” is a lot of other things, too, but above all else, it’s (see what I did, there?) a contraction. For IT IS.
“Its” is a possessive. It means “belonging to it.”
So in the sentence “She gave the cat it’s dinner,” the writer is actually saying “She gave the cat it is dinner,” and I think we can all agree that’s just a really, really stupid thing for anyone to say, right? Is the cat dinner? IS IT REALLY?
Or, alternately, in the sentence “I don’t know if its a good idea,” you don’t know if WHAT’S a good idea? Where’s your damn apostrophe, weirdo? It’s not like they cost anything, except if you’re sending a telegram. And who even sends telegrams anymore? We’re not Mad Men.
Now, look, to make you yahoos feel better, I actually, yes, EVEN ME, make errors here. Because I was absent this day in school. I even remember the day. It was third grade. I was sick. We were discussing possessives. I got back the next day and I saw the last day’s lesson on the board and I was all, “Hey, teacher, what is this I love learning!” and the teacher said “Nevermind, you’ll catch up.” Nope. Never did. I have a little cheat sheet for possessives hanging on my office cube wall. I AM TOTALLY SERIOUS. So don’t feel too bad. Possessives can be hard. (My issue is that I constantly am wanting, for no good reason at all, to add an apostrophe AFTER the “s” in “its.” No, I don’t know why, either. THANKS A LOT THIRD GRADE TEACHER WHO HATED MY LOVE OF LEARNING.)
They’re vs. There vs. Their
Ooh, NOW we’re getting to the nitty-gritty, right? This is something no one can master. NO ONE.
“They’re” is, as discussed above, what? Yes! That’s right! A contraction! It means “they are.” A sample sentence using it correctly is “They’re going to be so mad you stole all of that porn.”
“There” is a word designating a place. My favorite sentence using this word is “I want to go to there.” This is a sentence used by Liz Lemon in 30 Rock, and also by me, pretty much constantly, whenever I see something or someone I desire. Which is a lot. I want all the things. All the time.
“Their” is a possessive (I know! Those again!) meaning “belonging to them.” A sample sentence using this word correctly is “Don’t touch their meth, because you’ll totally get shot in the head for that around these parts.”
Now, apparently, someone sent out a memo that these three words can be used interchangeably. NO NO NO. That is NOT THE CASE BUCKAROOS. An example of bad news: “I went to the Walmarts and they were all out of adult diapers over their.” OVER THEIR WHAT? Over their…heads? Over their…bottom lines? THIS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. (Also, why are so many people pluralizing store names? I mean, I do it as a joke, but some people do it ON PURPOSE. There’s a local commercial where the woman says “Going to my local Hannafords is such a great shopping experience” and I want to pelt her with rotten peaches every time I hear it. GAH.)
Think about what the word means before you insert it in a sentence. Are you going somewhere? Use there. Are two or more people doing something? Use they’re. Does something belong to someone? Use their.
You’re vs. Your
Now that you rock the their/there/they’re thing, this is cake, right? IT IS. And everyone likes cake. SHUT UP THEY DO.
You’re = you are.
Your = belonging to you.
Correct: “That is your bag of weed.”
Correct: “You’re doing it wrong.”
Incorrect: “Your a weirdo troll-person and I want to slap you in you’re face area.”
Also, you might want to use “yore”, but that really only works if you’re from ago times. So probably don’t use that regularly.
Could of/would of vs. could have/would have
I get why you’re doing this. I do. The English language, she is a tricksy mistress. She sounds one way, she spells another. When you say, out loud, “I could have gone for a second tequila shot,” it kind of SOUNDS like “I could of gone for a second tequila shot.” So you WRITE it that way. I get it. I’m not totally unsympathetic, you guys. I like puppies, kittens, and lost causes. I really do.
DON’T EVER WRITE COULD OR WOULD OF. It’s never right. Ever. Not even EVER. Except if you’re making fun of people who write such things, or if you’re writing a grammar tutorial. And even then, it’s iffy.
To vs. Too vs. Two
Homophones. I know! They all sound the same. That’s crazysauce! Just like the you’res and the theres, these sound the same, so they’re really perplexing. Stop being homophonic, you guys. It’s 2011, and that’s totally embarrassing.
To – just a teeny little preposition. “I went to the stripclub.”
Too – also. “I want all the Precious Moments figurines, too!”
Two – more than one, less than three. “Why the hell do you have two wind-up spark-spitting nun figurines?”
Replacing any with any others makes you look to, two, toooooo ridiculous. Pay attention to what you want to say, and SAY IT.
Spelling and you
Listen, I was the spelling bee champion of my school for three years running. I’m totally bragging because I’m proud as SHIT about that. I went to the regional bee and almost made it to Washington twice, even. Like, I was 6 people away from Washington, once. Also, it was the 80s, so I wore totally stylish white sparkly tights.
And I get that it’s a digital world and things move fast and there are typos. I make them, too. Whatever. The occasional typo never killed anyone. I know that. But constantly misspelling things? THE SAME THINGS? I want to punch you with one of those Hulk Hands.
Here are some spelling issues that make me grit my teeth so hard that I’m pretty sure I need a dental nightguard.
Alot. ALOT is TWO WORDS. A. Lot. “I have a lot of issues.” “I like a lot of things.” “I DISLIKE a lot of things.” See? TWO WORDS. Why so smish-smashy with this? I don’t get it. “Alot” is never a word. Ever. “Allot” is totally a word, but doesn’t mean many. You always, always, ALWAYS need a space in between “a” and “lot.” Think about it this way. You have a cat. Do you have acat? No. You have a refrigerator. Do you have arefrigerator? No. You also don’t have alot.
Desert/dessert. A desert is where Snoopy’s brother lives; a dessert is a delicious treat for your mouthhole (unless there’s fruit in it, ick.) Remember it thusly; there are two “ss”s in “dessert” because it’s TWICE as delicious as eating sand. Unless you’re like a sandworm or something, what the hell do I know about sandworms. This spelling mistake has the added appeal of making me giggle a lot, because “I was eating the most delicious desert ever last night” and “OMG did you hear about that guy who got lost and died in the dessert?” are both totally funny.
Lose/loose. You LOSE your mind. Your morals are LOOSE. Similar to the above, it’s funny when these are done wrong. But also totally kind of sad. “I am always loosing my keys!” makes me think you’re releasing them into the wild or something. How to remember them: there are two o’s in loose, because only LOSERS have one o. Get it? Man, do I hate losing.
Advanced grammar, for you smarty smartertons
Semicolon usage. People are petrified of semicolons. PETRIFIED. Here’s a tip. Want to woo me? Use a semicolon correctly as if it’s no big thing. I’ll be a quivering bowl of jelly at your feet. Completely guaranteed. Send me semicolon porn. I’m totally not even kidding you right now. Semicolons are just about the sexiest, and I do so love a person who can use one correctly.
A semicolon is used for a few things. Here’s a handy style guide. But an easy way to tell if you’re using it correctly for beginners is – are the two clauses you’re joining stand-alone sentences?
Example: “I always liked to visit the ocean; the sound of the waves had a nice calming effect.”
See, the first part is a sentence on its own. And so is the second part. And you could just put them as two separate sentences. But with that semicolon, it looks FANCY. And makes me hot.
You can also use semicolons in non-classy sentences. To class them up. For example: “I told Tommy I’d be waiting for him naked at the pay-by-the-hour-motel; he was going to be a little late, because he had to pick up some booze and condoms and Lysol.”
So totally classier than your normal bedbug-ridden rendezvous, am I right?
Making up words is the awesomest. OK, listen. Now, I don’t advocate that beginners make up words. Because if you do, you’re probably going to stumble and look foolish. But for those of you who want to have a Miss Kitty Fantastico time, making up words of your own is the BEST. Like, did you see what I did up there? Awesomest? Totally not a word. I KNOW! Other words I like to use a lot that don’t exist anywhere but in my own head and also on the interwebs are “interwebs,” “douchecanoe,” “asshat” and the derivative of that, “asshattian,” “ragetastic,” and “clumsified.” You can do this, too. It makes you look clever, even if you’re not. I mean, of course I’M clever. I would never even insinuate I’m not. And you’d sure as shit better not, either. I’ll punch you.
OK, so there’s your grammar primer, kids and kiddettes. You can refer to this as often as you need to. I give you permission. Bookmark it, what the hell. It will make the world a better place, I’m pretty sure. And what else am I here for? Oh, the free porn? Well, yeah, there’s that.
(Psst…on another totally horn-tootin’ topic, I had two new posts go up on my other ventures yesterday. One on Insatiable Booksluts Death-Matching two Joe Hill books – Heart-Shaped Box and Horns – and one on The Loser’s Table, screaming at all of you for not introducing me to the amazingness that is Marian Call earlier than a few days ago. AND, in even MORE geektastic geekgasm news, BOTH Marian Call AND Joe Hill totally tweeted me – ME! – that they’d READ THE POSTS. I know. I KNOW. So yesterday was kind of probably the pinnacle of my life, and I’m done now? It’s all downhill from here. Anyway, I love them both to pieces, and I highly recommend, to the highest nth, you read anything with Joe Hill’s name on it – my favorite so far is Heart-Shaped Box, but he hasn’t misstepped yet, so you can’t go wrong with any of his work – and go IMMEDIATELY to the link at the bottom of the Marian Call post and download one of her albums. Or all. All of her albums. But my heart is totally swept up in Got to Fly at the moment. Now, go forth, grammar-perfect, with good books in hand and good music in your earholes. You’re welcome.)