In my last article I posted a photograph of a word puzzle that had an incorrectly-spelled word. I purposely did not share which word was wrong just to see how many people might have caught it. Of the people who contacted me… none of them spotted it.
That’s okay! It just reinforces my point that we all should utilize spell check before sending any email or letter… and if it’s really important, we should have another human being proofread it before it goes out.
By the way, if you’re curious, the word was together, which is the correct spelling.
I’d like to share with you some of the other spelling errors that are pet peeves of mine. These are the words I most often spot as being incorrect. Spell check will question them if only you take the time to run it.
Your vs. you’re
Your is a possessive word, belonging to somebody. I like the color of your shirt.
You’re replaces you are. As a hint: when you combine two words (called a contraction), you basically replace the space with an apostrophe. You’re on the schedule to work tomorrow.
It’s vs. its
It’s replaces it has or it is. This is also a contraction, so ask yourself, “Can this be two words?” If so, use an apostrophe. It’s going to be a beautiful day.
Its indicates possession. Yes, this probably is NOT what you recall learning in school where the apostrophe S always indicated possession. This one is an exception to the rule. So ask yourself again, “Can this be two words?” If not, then there’s no apostrophe. My car blew its tire.
Here vs. hear
Here refers to this place or time. How long have you lived here?
Hear is the act of listening. You use your ear to hear.
There, their and they’re
There also refers to place; one that has been previously mentioned or is understood. (If you can remember “here” above, you can remember this one.) Do you know how to get there from here?
Their means that it belongs to someone. Try to associate the T-H-E-I with T-H-E-Y to help you remember. Have they finished painting their house?
They’re replaces they are. Go back to the “Can this be two words?” question. They’re on vacation this week.
Two, too, and to – Let’s tackle these backward from how I usually see them explained, and start with the easy one.
Two means the number 2. If you visualize the number 2 on its side maybe it will remind you of a W, so therefore the correct spelling contains that letter. The two of them will ride horses together.
Too means also or as well. You can come with us, too. Too also indicates something more. She’s too busy. Or He’s too loud. If you’re “increasing” something with use of this word, increase the O.
To indicates direction, destination or position. I saw her on the way to work. Generally (but not always), if the first two spellings or explanations don’t fit your meaning, then this spelling is probably the correct one.
Now keep in mind, there are always variations to the rules and each explanation above can be described in more detail by other means. My intention was to keep it simple so that you can retain the reasoning and use it to help you in your writing.
I promise, if you slow down while you’re writing, take the time to proof read, and pause over the words that create confusion for you so that you can get them correct, the recipient of your writings will see you in a more professional and credible light.