John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Fun With Homophones

...or, what the spell-checker can't tell you!

Lately, I seem to be a grammar go-to guy, so in order to distract myself from being viciously pummelled about the face and neck at work, I'm posting a little impromptu English lesson. Yay?

They're putting their stuff over there.

"they're" is a contraction of "they are"
"their" is a possessive meaning "belonging to them"
"there" is a place (usually) although there are exceptions ;P

(Similarly, "you're" is a contraction of "you are" and "your" means "belonging to you".)

Two other people want to put their stuff there too.

"two" is the number that comes after one
"to" is either part of an infinitive verb (like "to be or not to be"), or a preposition ("going to that place") -- in this case, it is part of the infinitive "to put"
"too" is another word for "also"

It's never too late for a country to follow its principles.

"it's" is a contraction of "it is"
"its" is a possessive meaning "belonging to it"

Note that "its" is an irregular construction, which is one of the reasons people get confused. Seeing a possessive, people think that there should be an apostrophe in there somewhere -- and they get points for thinking that way. But in this particular case, it isn't true. "Its" is like "his" or "hers," and therefore has no apostrophe.

Don't accept anything except the right word.

"accept" means to willingly receive something (or at least be resigned to it!)
"except" means to exclude something from a general statement ("everybody except me got this right") or a conjunction indicating a different condition (which is a hard phrase to parse, I realize -- but this is how it's used above)

FWIW, I'm leaving off "affect" and "effect," because it's such a tangled morass. Stick with "make" and forget using "affect" or "effect," is my advice!

-The Gneech, who is such a nerd that he relaxes with grammar ¬.¬
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