Friday, November 25, 2011

Dear Internets, please learn to spell: #1- Your vs. You're

Let's map this post out, to make it more fun.  Bolds added after the article was written :-p

Email Title (fabricated to illustrate the topic): 

Re: You're an idiot.  Your mom thinks so too.


Dear Internets,

First, I want to say this isn't intended as an insult.  I just want to help.  If I say it mockingly, it's still helpful, right?


Now, please endure my surface-brushing (and semi-pedantic) speech on linguistics, and how it applies to making (most of) you less stupid.

Fun use of really really basic linguistic terms:

There are a lot of things that drive me crazy in life, but few things can compete with my hatred of terrible spelling.  Please don't get me wrong - I'm not a prescriptivist when it comes to actual language use, which means I don't tell people how to communicate the message they're trying to send.  I'm a descriptivist to my bones, actually.  This means that I actually greatly value creative ways of saying things.  So long as you get your message across, I can deal with 'ain't' or 'get 'er done' as well as anyone.

However, misspelling or misusing a word interferes with the creative, communicative process.  (wow that sounds dusty!)


This isn't to point fingers at people who say things like 'No lulz, just sads'- the entire reason that this term exists in its current form is a play on words, not because it's been ignorantly misspelled. In fact, the argument should be made that a person would need to know how to spell the original words (lol) simply because they wouldn't want to run the risk of accidentally spelling it correctly and making asses of themselves in front of people who actually know how words work.

The Crux:

Dumb Bitch.
Here's the crux of the situation:  I (irrationally) find it hard to give credibility to someone when I notice a spelling error.  It's not an elitist thing, where I feel clearly superior to people who can't spell as well as I can.  Rather, it's the question of "if they don't understand how to spell, should I trust that they understand what they're talking about?"

After all, people have been reading/spelling their whole lives.  How long have they been playing 40k?  :-p

I realize that this isn't a fair comparison.  A bunch of people can do whatever it is they do better than they can spell.  Frankly, thank God for that, lol. 

That's actually kind of the point.

The actual point (not just kind of):

Misspelling words will cause people to question your credibility, on something that is entirely unrelated to the topic at hand.  How many situations have you seen on BoLS when someone makes a point (good or bad), and instead of addressing the point made, people pick the dude's grammar apart?

Bottom line:  if you sound (or in this case, spell) like oaf, people will believe you're an oaf, even if you aren't.  And you'll lose credibility, and people will care far less about what you're saying.

A fun, and not overly difficult admission:

Fine I'll admit it:  if someone consistently misspells stuff, I stop reading their stuff.  Even if they know what they're talking about, it's simply too distracting for me.

Restating the Thesis:

This series of posts isn't calling you dumb for not knowing how to spell.  It's just another tool, to help people out.  Some posts teach you how to pwn newbs.  Some teach you how to spell.

Both make the world a better place :)

So, that brings us into what this post was originally intended to be about:  practical application on spelling commonly misspelled words, so you don't sound like an idiot.

Specifically:  Your vs. You're

I won't get all technical on you, because honestly, nobody cares except for people like me, and I don't even care (only other people who also study English, like me).

It's really, really easy.  Ready for it?


Your is referring to something the person you are talking to has.

Examples:  Your car.  Your army.  Your strangely attractive mother.  I can't stand your horrible spelling.


You're connects the words you + are.  This is the exact same thing as saying "you are".  In fact, I could have said it up there in the other definition, but didn't want to confuse anyone.

Examples:  You're tall.  You're not too bright.  Actually, you're fucking stupid.  I can't stand that you're incapable of fucking learning how to fucking spell.


Got it?  It's so easy, yet people fail to use it correctly so often.

'Yore' is another fun misspelling.  Well, often it's misspelled, but sometimes people use it correctly in reference to the past.  'The days of Yore' is how we've all probably heard it the most (slightly less frequently used in 'the days of yore momma', which, you might observe, is misspelled, but somehow still funny).

Alright, that's it folks.  Hope you enjoyed.  My intuition tells me that nobody who can't already spell feels like reading about this stuff, but I've already taken the time to write it, so it'll go up anyways :-p

Let me know what you think, and I'll remain Affectionately Yours,


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