The Red Pen: Volume I

Hello friends!

You might or might not know that I am something of a grammar freak. I was a linguistics major in college, but my love affair with the English language began well before that. When I was 13, I spent some time at CTY, or, as most attendees affectionately called it, “nerd camp.” At CTY, students pick a subject to study for the duration of a three-week session. The first year I went, I chose Etymologies. Yup, that’s right, I spent 7 hours every weekday (and 2 hours on Sunday evenings) studying the Latin and Greek origins of English words. And some people wonder why I turned out the way I did…

Anyway, my love of words also makes me very protective of the way they are used, and I take it rather personally when they are used incorrectly. As someone who also spends far too much time on the internet, you can imagine the toll that this exacts on my fragile psyche. So, I thought I would use this platform to not only vent about some of my biggest grammar pet peeves, but also commiserate with like-minded individuals (I know you’re out there). Thus, without further ado, I present to you the very first volume of my new weekly feature, We Need to Talk About Grammar.

Let’s get started with some easy ones, shall we?


Its – Possessive.
It’s – It is.


Their – Plural possessive.
There – Preposition.
They’re – They are.


Your – Possessive.
You’re – You are.


To – Preposition.
Two – 2.
Too – Can either mean “also” or indicate excessiveness, i.e. “too heavy.”


Whose – Possessive.
Who’s – “Who is” or “who has.”


Hear – What you do with your ears.
Here – Preposition, opposite of “there.”


Lose – The opposite of “win,” or to misplace something.
Loose – The opposite of “tight,” or to make loose.


Then – Adverb indicating time or sequence, i.e. “He was living in Baltimore then,” or “I went to the movies and then I went to the mall.”
Than – Use for comparisons, i.e. “My cake is bigger than yours.”


Remember, everyone: possessive pronouns never take apostrophes.

Are there any other really obvious ones that I missed?

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6 thoughts on “The Red Pen: Volume I

  1. How about one of my favorite pet peeves: should of, would of and could of rather than should have or should’ve. Or worse: shoulda, woulda, coulda. 🙂

  2. Two of my closest friends are a bit… um… Well, grammar isn’t their best trait. They speak well, but their text messages! Oy. Then and than are ALWAYS used wrong. I love them, they’re some of my favorite people in the world, but their text messages leave me squirming.

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