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Posted by on Jul 24, 2017

Its vs. It’s, Their/there, Led/lead etc

Many words in English look and sound alike. Knowing the differences, and when to use which version, will help mark you as a pro.

Example:

I drove her two the mall.

Most of us would realize the mistake – that the number ‘two’ was used rather than the word ‘to.’

Harder Example:

I wanted to go out, but I was to tired.

This usage of the word ‘to’ is incorrect. It should be ‘too.’ Think of ‘too’ as having an extra ‘o,’ and therefore being used to indicate ‘very’ or ‘also.’

Mistaking to/too/two, and similar examples, is a sure give away of amateur status – or at least sloppy proofreading. And because these words are all correct spellings or real words, it is hard for automatic spell-checkers to pick them up.

Other words with these sorts of challenges include:

  • Its and it’s
    • This one is counter intuitive. Usually a possessive, like “Andrew’s car” is indicated by an apostrophe. “Andrews car” would be clearly incorrect. But the reverse is true with “it.” This is because the apostrophe in “it’s” is there because the word is a contraction of “it” and “is.” Therefore:
      • It’s going to rain.
      • I’m going to have to replace its hard drive.
  • Their, there, and they’re
    • “Their” is possessive: “Their pizza is cold.”
    • “There” is a place word: “The pizza is over there.”
    • “They’re” is the contraction of “they” and “are”: “They’re going to eat all the pizza.”
  • Your and You’re
    • “Your” is possessive: “Your car is in the driveway.”
    • “You’re” is the contraction of “you” and “are”: “You’re going to have to move your car out of the driveway!”
  • We’re, where, and were
    • “We’re” is the contraction of “we” and “are”: “We’re going to go to the beach.”
    • “Where” is a place word: “Where is the beach?”
    • “Were” is the past tense of the verb “to be”: “We were at the beach until it rained.”
  • Accept and except
    • Affect and effect
      • To affect is to influence; an effect is a noun meaning a result
  • Lead and led
    • Lead is a metal; led is the past-tense version of the verb”to lead.”

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