Sometimes, even though things sound the same, they’re different. Politicians, for example, or boybands.
Homophones, as we grammar pedants call them, trip everyone up, from the TEFL student to the careless tweeter. While these mistakes don’t upset me as much as the misused apostrophe, they will earn you “a slap upside the head” should Thea Newcomb ever catch you at it.
To prevent any accidental concussions, allow me to clarify some common confusions:
1 Their, there and they’re
Their lair is there and they’re bears.
- Their (possessive pronoun) – belonging to them
- There (pronoun) – a place
- They’re (subject pronoun and verb) – they are
2 You’re and your
You’re holding your breath
- You’re (subject pronoun and verb) – you are
- Your (possessive pronoun) – belonging to you
3 Two, too and to
Two hunters go too, to shoot.
- Two (number) – more than one less than three
- Too (adverb) – meaning ‘also’
- To (preposition) – used here to indicate the infinitive of the verb
4 Effect and Affect
The effects of hunting affect everyone
- Effect (noun) – the change caused by something else
- Affect (verb) – to make a difference to something
English is a real b*gger note 1: effect can also be a verb when it means to bring something about e.g. to effect change
5 Accept and Except
Accept it, except when you’re angry
- Accept (verb) – to consent/to believe/to come to recognise
- Except (conjunction or preposition) – meaning excluding
English is a real b*gger note 2: except can also be a verb when it means to leave out e.g. children excepted from paying
I still have to think twice whenever I write affect and effect – it helps to remember which one is the verb. In points 4 and 5 they are the ones that start with A. Does that help you at all?
I do wonder sometimes how on earth anyone ever learns English. As Billy Connolly once pointed out, it’s a stupid language where GHOTI can actually spell FISH.
I’ll leave you to ponder that one until next week, when I’ll tackle Spelling 😀