Write Right, Damn It!

Proper Use of You'reUh oh…the old fart is in a bad mood.

Deep breath…no not really. I just came across one of my pet peeves…the improper use of the words – Your and You’re. They are not interchangeable people!

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert in grammar and punctuation. I have my struggles, along with my never-ending battle with sentence-ending prepositions, if you can understand where I’m at…I mean the point at which I am…Bullshit…I mean where I’m at.

Still, there are certain fundamental grammatical forms that, when used improperly, are just plain incorrect because they MEAN SOMETHING DIFFERENT than what is intended. This is not the same as improper conjugation of a verb or using a comma instead of a semicolon, or the aforementioned preposition-ending sentence. I can see those errors and still understand the meaning of the passage I am reading. In truth, I also comprehend what is meant when someone misuses Your and You’re, but I always wonder if the writer does.

So, before I go any further (not farther, by the way) let’s get this straight.

Your: An adjective that describes the possession of something tangible or intangible. Ex. Your book, Your idea.

– You’re: A contraction of the pronoun You and the verb Are, (1st person plural of the verb infinitive ‘to be’ which is used to link the subject (read pronoun You) to some information about the subject (read pronoun You). Ex. You’re never going to be published if you don’t (another contraction) learn the difference between Your and You’re!

 Get it?

Okay, so what’s the point old man, you ask. Just this, serious writing requires the same attention to detail that a carpenter puts into building a cabinet, or an engineer designing an airplane.

Words have meanings. When I read a sentence that misuses simple vocabulary, I wonder how much time and thought went into the writing of the piece.

I’m not referring to dialogue…although the You’re contraction should be correctly used there as well. We all know that dialogue must be real to be meaningful. That means that it frequently is written the way people actually speak. My books are full of southernisms and dialect that is intended to bring color and realism to the action.

But if I want to say “You are the very distasteful offspring of a female dog” as spoken by a character in a story, I might say:

“You’re one mean son of a bitch” (I might even throw ‘asshole’ in for emphasis.)

I would not say:

Your one mean son of a bitch.”

Get my point?

Okay. That’s enough ranting by an old curmudgeon.

This to my writer friends, work,  hone your skills, learn your trade the way a carpenter or engineer does. Learn how to use words; don’t be used by them.

I mentioned in my last post that truly becoming a writer requires work, but the work is a thrill ride that I would not trade for anything else. When you know that the words you have written have found a way into the hearts of readers, that in some way they have been absorbed into their life experience, you will embrace the work of writing as well as the passion.

Easy Reading Hard Writing

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