English Basics

Here are some examples on how to use the most commonly mis-used English words and phrases.

Their: Guys should not be popping THEIR collars (indicates possession)
There: THERE was mayhem at the Michael Korrs sample sale (indicates location)
They’re: People who can appreciate Louis Vuitton? THEY’RE in my good books (short for they are)

Then: Is about time. They THEN went to the mall.
Than: Is about comparison.  The items on sale are cheaper THAN others.

Your: Please don’t throw YOUR Gucci swimtrunks on the patio floor (indicates possession)
You’re: Short for “You are”. You’re being a pain in the tuchus.

To: I am walking TO my moat (indicates direction)
Too: I drank TOO much champagne, and you TOO
Two: I have TWO chihuahuas (indicates number)

Of: She is not of royal blood (indicates relationship/source)
Off: Switch off the engine (indicates state)
Can you now see the difference between “of course” and “off course”? 🙂

It’s: Short for IT IS
Its: The Bentley had its paintwork polished (indicates possession)

How to use ‘s
1. Indicating possession for singular noun: The one MODEL’S top fell off on the catwalk
2. Indicating possession for plural noun: The five MODELS’ hair simultaneously burst into flames
3. Possession for single nouns ending in Y: The ARMY’s budget was cut. (Note that ‘s is never used to indicate a plural, i.e. “ARMY’S” is not the plural of army, but rather “ARMIES”)
4. Indicating possession for a singular noun ending on S: My BOSS’ secretary had a nervous breakdown
5. Indicating possession for a plural noun ending on S: They washed all of the fifteen CARS’ windows
6. Shortening of noun+is: The Bentley’s in the shop (The Bentley is…)
Exception for ‘s and indicating possession is ITS.

When to use ME or I
I remove everyone in the sentence but myself.
Example: Me and Jeff are going. Remove Jeff from the sentence, and you are left with “Me are/is going” Doesn’t sound right, does it? If you change it to “I am going” and it sounds right, add Jeff back in. You now have “Jeff and I are going”, which is correct.
Example: They will be partying with Jeff and me. Again, remove Jeff from the sentence, and you are left with “They will be partying with me”. Sounds right, so the original sentence is correct.

Another phrase I see being used incorrectly quite often is “should of”
It is incorrect. It must be “should have”
As in: “I should have gone to bed earlier”

One of my pet peeves is the use of the word “got”.
“I’ve got a new car.” Basically “I have got a new car” Why would you indicate possession twice, by using both “have” and “got”? The word “got” in this case is superfluous. “I have a new car” is much better English.
Same with “Have you got?” it reeks of common trailer park English. “Do you have?” is so much easier on the ears 🙂


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