In this part of the grammar series, I will include: I, Their – They’re – There, Your – You’re, To – Too, It’s – Its, Were – We’re – Where, Effect – Affect, Who – Whom, Bare – Bear, Here – Hear – Hare, Then – Than, Lie – Lay – Lie, Adverse – Averse, Lose – Loose.
Whenever you are referring to yourself, the ‘I’ should always be capital. I as a noun is always big. I’ve read quite a few stories which have small ‘i’s.
Their – They’re – There
“If they’re there, then that’s theirs”. ‘They’re’ is short for ‘they are’ which explains something about ‘they’. There is a place, defines the place you are referring to, which is not here, but there. Their words explain what belongs to them. If they own it, it’s their belongings.
Your – You’re
Just like ‘they’re’, the word ‘you’re’ is short for ‘you are’ which tells something about you. Your words however, tell what belongs to you.
To – Too
“We too, are going to write.” could be the sentence to remember on this. The word “too” has a lengthened ‘-o’ sound when you pronounce it. It is used when you want to add another group to the subject. A similar word of “too” is “also” but has a slightly different use. You could say “there were apples there too.” to state that they were also there. The word ‘to’ is used only in front of a verb in its base form. “To hold” or “To read”, you get the point.
It’s – Its
“It’s” is short for “it is”, explaining something about “it”. If something belongs to “it” then you would use “its”. Example: “It’s its own.”
Were – We’re – Where
“We’re where they were”. “We’re” is short for “we are” just like “it’s” is short for “it is”. When talking about you/we/us/they or whatever plural form in past tense, you won’t use “are” but the past form “were”. “You were at the circus.” or “They were on the scene.” are two examples. “Where is it?” is used for placement. “Where” may or may not be in a question but refers to wherever a thing is placed. “The building is where you’ll find the ice-cream bar.”
Effect – Affect
“Something that has an effect, will affect you”. Something has an effect, it is a property of “something”. When you are influenced by something, it will have an effect on you, but you may also say that you are affected by something. The word “affect” is mostly used in the context “Your mother shows affection for you”, but may be used for other things. You can also affect a situation, meaning you make a display of opinion/love/etc.
Who – Whom
As a very general rule on this, you may say that “he”, “she”, “they” etc. replace who, while “him”, “her”, “them” etc. replace whom. If you read the sentence “Zin-Dar is the one who wants to go to the disco”, you may also read it as “He is the one…”, thus it is correct to have “who”. If we do the same with: “We’re chasing the man whom is running away.” we may also read “We’re chasing him (he is running away).” It may be slightly confusing, but we are still talking about “him”, in the second example, thus “whom” should be used.
Bare – Bear
You don’t want to meet a big bear with your bare hands in the woods. They are pronounced the same, but have different meanings. The bear is a big creature, while something bare is ‘naked’ or revealed empty. You can show bare skin, bare hands, or bare emotions. You may also bear something. “It was his burden to bear” is a cliché sentence many have probably heard before. “Frodo must bear the ring” is another.
Here – Hear – Hare
All these three words are pronounced ALMOST the same way. Hare has a more distinct ‘a’, but may be hard to differentiate. I am here, is referring to where I am, right here. I can hear you, means my ear is picking up sounds from you. A hare in the forest, is the bigger version of a rabbit, that races the turtle in “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
Then – Than
We have more than fifty then, is one example on how to use these words. The word “Than” is only for explaining “more/less than”. It compares two things. The word “Then” is used a little differently, in most cases where you don’t compare things: “Al right then.”, “Let’s go then.”, “Prices were lower then (in the 50’s)”, “We had lunch, then we went for a walk and then we went home.” (note that this is a childish way to talk, often boring to listen to a lot of “then”). You may, almost like the previous example, use it to list up something in order: “Next to my father stands my brother, then my uncle, then my cousin.” It looked like a car at first, then a bus, but it was a minibus.” As a general rule, know that “than” is for comparison, while “then” is for the rest.
Lie – Lay - Lie
This is something I’ve rarely seen others troubling with, but I’ve had my own run-ins with it, so I want to spare you the trouble. In past tense, I lay down in bed, while right now I lay down an egg while laying about it. Here’s what each of them means: To lie down, is something you do to yourself. To lay and egg is when you interact with an object. If I lie to you, I’m telling something untrue. You should also consider their tenses, as they are the ones making things difficult.
Base form – present principle – past principle – past principle
Lie down – lying down – lay down – lain down
Lay an eggs – laying – laid – laid
To lie to you – lying – lied – lied
Adverse – Averse
As a general rule, one can say that averse can be applied to humans, while adverse cannot. They are easily confused as both mean to loathe or not like. “I don’t like the weather; the weather is adverse.” or “What an adverse deal”. Averse is often followed by ‘to’ when used. “I’m averse to this deal. You averse to it, right?”
As a short extra note, adverse has nothing to do with “advertise” which means to promote, or show commercials.
Lose – Loose
This can be a fun error in some cases. A common mistake is: “We’re loosing this game.” To translate that, it means you are loosening up the game, it is becoming more movable or bigger chance of coming apart. “To lose” is to fail, or not win. “To loosen” a screw, means you’re screwing the screw back out. “The woman is loose” is a second meaning to the word, meaning she “is a little too willing with men”. “The woman is a loss” means you will have something to lose with her. You may also say that the knot is loose, or he has a loose grip on reality.