Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Your and You're

Another rant about GPS? Well, why not? No, I’m not talking about any Global Positioning System. I’m referring to Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling. In one way, however, they both have the same function: to keep us on the right track.

Your going to have to watch you’re grammar! Does this make you cringe? It ought to! How many times have you seen ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ used wrongly? I can cope with this kind of error on Facebook and Twitter – after all, people are often dashing off quick responses, and we all make errors and/or typos.

I can usually forgive GPS errors in blogs too, since many bloggers are not aspiring to be authors. However, if I see this kind of error in a book blurb (as I did recently), or worse still, in the text of a published book, it’s a huge turn-off for me. All it says is that (a) either the author doesn’t have a clue about correct GPS or (b) he/she hasn’t bothered to do a thorough and careful edit (or else has an ‘editor’ who hasn’t a clue either!)

I firmly believe that, as authors, it is our responsibility to write correct English. By that, I mean we should know and obey the basic rules of GPS. Admittedly, some can be broken, but we need to know which can and which can’t.

I’ll stick my neck out and say the rules concerning apostrophes should never be broken (but frequently are). I’ve recently seen "Lilians’ blood", and "The Wilson's were going on vacation". In the latter case, the author (admittedly not a published author but one who writes a lot of online fan-fiction) replied to someone (not me!) who pointed out that it should be "Wilsons" saying ‘It looks better with an apostrophe’. I was speechless!

There are plenty of grammar websites where authors can check on GPS rules. This is one I've found to be very clear and concise: Although I was fortunate to be educated at a time when there was great emphasis on grammar, spelling, and punctuation, I still have to check on things sometimes. I just wish some other authors would do so too!

Okay, rant over – except maybe not quite, as I thought you might enjoy this list:

Any others you want to add to the list?
And what do you think when you find countless GPS errors in a book?


  1. Words that should be plural but use apostrophes make me crazy.

    As does the dreaded 'could of', it's 'could HAVE'.

    And has anyone ever decided on whether it's 'alright' or 'all right'? I've heard varying opinions as to usage.

    Great post.

  2. Yikes. I'm guilty of the apostrophe plural. It does look sort of right because it's used so many times. Familiarity breeds legality?

  3. 'Alright' seems to be becoming mroe acceptable (and MS Word doesn't highlight it as a spelling error) but personally I much prefer 'all right'. I've red that editors (and teachers!) prefer the two words!

  4. In some cases, familiarity does breed (semi) legality, Ana, but to my mind, it's still wrong!

  5. Drives me nuts! But I still get confused over affect and effect (I usually just switch to a totally different word so as not to look stupid).

  6. Agree it's confusing, Jen. Whereas affect is always a verb, effect can be a noun or (less commonly) a verb.

  7. This is great! Thanks so much for this! (I was tempted to toy with you and write "thank's" so much!

  8. Thanks, Jane and LOL @ thank's!!

  9. An apostrophe can be used to form a plural, if the word being 'pluralled' ends in an 's', can't it?

    I have a family of characters in my work in progress with the surname Fatolitis... so if I'm talking about the family as a whole, they would be The Fatolitis' wouldn't they?

    Just to clarify... I don't want to offend the readers out there, lol x

  10. Not sure about that, Suzie - words ending in an 's' always confuse me. In the case of surnames, compare it with 'keeping up with the Joneses' (not Jones') so in your case, I think it would be Fatolitises. Probably easy to say the 'Fatolitis family'!