Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mother Dunham Lives Inside My Head

Deep inside of me beats the heart of a stern English teacher. I think it's because my eighth grade English teacher, affectionately known as Mother Dunham, still lives inside of my head. Few things make Grams crazier than the incorrect usage of common words.

The one that's making me bonkers at the moment is the incorrect usage of there, their and they're. Not a single day goes by that I don't see these used incorrectly on the internet, usually Facebook, but also on a variety of blogs and web sites. I find it hard to believe that so many people don't understand the difference in the three words or never learned their correct usage. Rather, I choose to believe that they're just not paying attention, they're in a hurry, or they just don't care.

At any rate, in an effort to save my sanity, Grams has decided that a short lesson in correct usage is in order.
  • They're is a contraction of the words "they are." It should only be used in place of those two words.
  • Their is the third person possessive pronoun. It means belonging to them.
  • There indicates location or place. It's a location other than here.
Mother Dunham encouraged us to insert the words "they are" as a test for which form of the word to use. If you can substitute "they are" use the contraction "they're". If you can substitute a name, use "their." If you can substitute a location, use "there."

Grams loves the fact that the proliferation of electronic media has given voices to many people who would otherwise never be published, including Grams. Unfortunately, it has also become an excuse for poor grammar. Mother Dunham would be so disappointed. And, trust me on this, you don't want to disappoint Mother Dunham.

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