Usage of their, there, & they're

These are commonly misused to my chagrin.


There, there…


I’ve given up on learning its and it’s. Sorry.

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Don’t get me started on lose vs loose…


Them there people are just plane dumb.


If you can remember that “it’s” is equivalent to “it is” and mentally substitute for the contraction, then it’s pretty easy.

The downside of that habit is that pretty soon it’ll really drive you nuts when someone misuses “it’s”:

“The cat stalked it’s prey.” == “The cat stalked it is prey.” ARGH.


What gets me is my dad’s usage of Spit’s.
He spit it is out.
The computer is on the frit’s.
Lemme know how the chair’s sit’s.
I don’t know if that’s just his way of adding a s, or a X noise.

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Pretty sure you mean they’re, their…


I use the same mental exercise when using “it’s” vs “its”. However, it doesn’t necessarily bother me as much as the others. Due to the nature of the (sometimes confusing) English language, it seems somehow more understandable to me.

Give the following two scenarios:

“He rolled the bowling ball down the lane, but the ball’s spin was wrong.”


“He rolled the bowling ball down the lane, but it’s spin was wrong.”

Obviously, as stated above, the second one is incorrect, but I can see how someone might think that when showing possession, “it’s” could be correct.

Another point: “it’s” can be an abbreviation for either “it is” or “it has”, so replacing with “it is” doesn’t necessarily always sound correct even if the usage is correct. (“It’s been a great day.”)

The rules of apostrophes in general can be confusing sometimes…

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I just spotted an incorrect usage of “your” being used where “you’re” should have been. Just thought I would add that one to the growing list.

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More realistically, I don’t think it’s that confusing for as many people as it appears. The problem is this is the internet, and a lot of us are typing at work between tasks and as a way to relax. That means we’re not really paying as much attention as would be needed to always choose the right “it” variation. I know the rules, but sometimes I’m just typing so fast that I use the wrong one and I didn’t catch it. I’ll read a post later and smack myself in the head for making such a dumb mistake, but it happened because I wasn’t really paying attention rather than because I’m ignorant of the correct usage.


I don’t mind some corrections or mistakes because we’re all humans, but some people take it way too far on the Internet.
They blow up and become hateful when they see a mistake, and suddenly you’re under their prestigious presence.
It’s a lot different to say, "hey did you mean to put they’re"
Than "oh my word, you are absolutely handicapped. You clearly cannot tell the difference between their and they’re, therefore everything you say is petty garbage! "
This actually happened to me on YouTube.
It could be YouTube being YouTube though.

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Remembering that “it’s” is not possessive clicked for me when someone pointed out that pronoun possessives don’t use apostrophes.

We don’t say “me’s”, “you’s” or “him’s” — we say “mine”, “yours” and “his”. Similarly, we say “its”, not “it’s”.

However, I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head where substituting “it’s” for “its” could actually cause confusion, so I don’t think this rule really matters. Language rules are only there to enable us to communicate clearly and accurately. If there isn’t any confusion that a rule solves, we might as well get rid of it — at least then the language will be simpler.

For the same reason, I don’t care about “less” versus “fewer”. We say “more” for both continuous and discrete amounts, and that never causes a problem, so why not just say “less” for everything too?


Mm. I see plenty of errors in internet publications, written by someone who’s only job is to write stuff. (Then again I look at the code I write at my only job, and think maybe everyone else is doing pretty great compared to me.)

I do wonder whether English would be better overall if we got rid of apostrophes altogether. I mean what are they really conveying that isn’t conveyed already?


Its not a big deal if your breaking the rules of grammer, their meant to be broken.


Define internet publications? There’s a lot of “news” sites out there that just allow user submissions, and probably don’t proofread. Also writers probably take more care, but spotting your own mistakes can be difficult. Even in college teachers recommend having another person proofread essays for exactly that reason. It’s also why newspapers (what are those?) always had editors.

I’ll have you know I consider myself far too modern progressive to be using barbaric traditions like “possessing words”. Its so outdated. You can’t own a word. Words have dreams and feelings of their own. They should be free.



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Grammars convey underlying logics. Sometimes, the embedded principles of language are surprisingly complex, and they are not intuitive for all people, most obviously for second-language writers. I started teaching myself Latin to try to develop a deeper understanding of the structure of language, and it was eye-opening in terms of the nuance and sophistication of languages’ grammatical structures. (I’m waiting for my life to get a little simpler so that I can finish my Latin learning, but until then I’ll waste my time on Soylent forums–or fora, as the Romans would say–instead. I’m about 3/4 done so far.)

Often, sloppy writing just demonstrates sloppy writing, as suggested by @Telos, especially on internet forums. Other times, though, the sloppy writing reveals sloppy thinking. That is distressingly common. I have graded thousands of papers in my life so far, and the range of errors in grammar and punctuation that students show can be very impressive. I’ve developed thick “skin” about these and learned not to let my umbrage of encountering things like subject-verb mismatches (“They is doing things”) interfere with my encounter with the ideas expressed through the words, but the connection between conventions of style and the logic of one’s ideas puts a cap on how much a reader should tolerate.

After a certain point, for a native speaker of English, there is no excuse for a remotely attentive writer to consistently demonstrate a lack of understanding of basic grammatical concepts learned in elementary school. If a huge number of those aren’t shown to have been grasped, there can be good reason for questioning overall mental development. There are few avenues for accessing the minds of others, and language is our primary vehicle. If you are always driving a verbal jalopy, you probably don’t have a fantastic set of cars stashed away that you could bring out instead. Language, in this sense, is evidence, but, as with all other forms of evidence, you need a sufficient amount before you can draw firm conclusions. A couple of misused words does not a stupid mind make. In part for these reasons, and not only because I make so many sloppy errors myself, I’ve long since learned not to wear my grading cap when I’m not reading papers. There’s no point.


Exactly! :wink:

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