Grammar Spots! Your--You're--Yore
Choose the Right Word
Confusing the spelling of homophones, and not really knowing each word's meaning, is a common problem, including the three above.
Mistakes usually happen when we aren't thinking while we're writing, and spell check doesn't warn us that we've got the wrong word since homophones are legitimate words.
Careful proofreading before publishing is the best way to catch these errors. But what if you just aren't sure that the word you used is correct?
To find out which homophones should be used, and when, take the time to look them up, as I've done below with our examples.
Keep a Dictionary Near By
I keep an old collegiate dictionary at hand for quick checks while proof reading to be sure I am, or my client is, spelling properly or using the word correctly. Looking words up reinforces learning for the next time. It's worth the effort.
Here are the definitions of the above easily misused and confused words; following are examples of how, and how not, to use them.
Your: an adjective describing and relating to you and/or your possessions.
When you face the house, the garage is on your left. (This example shows the relationship of the person to something.)
Please, stop your dog from jumping on me! (This shows the form of possession; the person spoken to owns the obnoxious dog.)
The word your cannot be interchanged with the other two homophones and still make sense.
You're: This is simply the contraction for you are, a subject pronoun and a verb. Both of the following sentences make perfect sense.
You're the best student I've ever taught.
You are the best student I've ever taught.
You're cannot be substituted for either of the other two homophones. Examples:
When you face the house, the garage is on you're left.
What you're actually saying: When you face the house, the garage is on you are left.
Please, stop you're dog from jumping on me!
Translation: Please, stop you are dog from jumping on me!
Yore: a noun, sometimes an adverb, meaning a time past, especially the long past.
We most often hear this word used in fairy tales, poetry, and medieval period movies as "...in days of yore." That is its only use; it is not interchangeable with your and you're. (Sometimes it is used in dialog to show lack of education or a regional dialect; but, that is for a specific purpose and not by mistake.)
When you face the house, the garage is on yore left.
What you're saying is: When you face the house, the garage is on a long time past left.
Please, stop yore dog from jumping on me!
Translation: Please stop a long time past dog from jumping on me!
Choosing the right word will always make you and your writing look thoughtful and polished.
Sharpen Your Word Choice Skills!
Homophones are tricky! The context of the sentence we write tells us which word to choose, but we often have to check that we chose the right word.
The influence you may have on others through the written word is powerful. Don't undermine what you have to say by mistakenly using the wrong word.
As Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote: "The pen is mightier than the sword."
A Trusty Sword - At Your Side
Keeping a dictionary within reach--whether a hard copy, app, or a bookmarked online dictionary--is being prepared at all times to do your best writing. After all, in days of yore, a medieval knight would never be without his trusty sword!
Clear communication is of the utmost importance in this world of continuous connection. The right word at the right time can close a deal, avoid confusion and misunderstanding, and create poetry out of prose.
Your ability to handle the English language with skill will give the impression that you're a person of thought, experience, and reliability, ready to do a job to the utmost of your ability, as were the heroic knights in days of yore.