Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Grammar Workshop

A big thank you to Cia for providing a grammar workshop of some of the most common errors with homonyms

Cia's Stories

So… grammar lessons, in a nutshell, don’t make much sense if a person quotes lots of things that you haven’t used or thought about since you first learned them at primary school, years ago.
I could quote rules and give you definitions, but that doesn’t help anyone. I do have a few tricks for some of the most common mistakes used with homonyms. The list goes way beyond these few I’m sharing so, if you’d like to read up on more, or quiz your knowledge, check out the links I’ve provided!
Commonly misused homonyms:
1. There versus Their versus They’re.  Okay, so - there is a noun. Their is a pronoun. They’re is a contraction of a noun and verb. Lost yet? To figure out which one you should be using - try thinking of it this way:
A. Does the sentence indicate a ‘here or there’? If so use t(here).  
B. Are you talking about an object that someone owns? Then is it ‘hers or his’ or ‘th(ei)rs’.
C. Try the sentence and see if they are performing an action and use ‘they are’ instead of ‘there’ or ‘their’.  Does it make sense? If yes. . .use they’re.
2. Your versus You’re versus Yore. Well, I throw the last one in there mostly because I’ve seen it from really bad spellers. Yore is an old way of saying times past, quite specialized in use really. For the most part it isn’t relevant.
As for the most common mistake, there is an easy way to know which one is right for almost every case. Just substitute ‘You are’ in the sentence; if it makes sense, you should use the contraction ‘you’re’. The other ‘your’ indicates possession.
3. Its versus It’s. One of the most common mistakes made, I do it all the time and it drives me nuts. One shows possession and the other is a contraction. To check your sentence if you’re not sure of the right usage, substitute ‘It is or It has’. If it works, use the contraction, it’s.
4. Except versus Accept. This is another easy one with a little trick. Accept is a verb-hence action. So I just remember if the word are indicating an action, use the word that starts with an a.
5. Affect and Effect. I remember this one in a similar way to #4. Affect is a verb-the action taken to do something. Effect is the result, often from whatever affects you, lol.  So to remember the difference, look at your sentence. If you’re indicating an ‘action happening, use ‘affect. A for action!
6. Hear and here. You’d be surprised how often I see this one. Just remember, if it’s going in an ear, use h(ear).
Two other major confused and misspelled words that aren’t homonyms:
1.Than or Then. Than compares, then indicates a time or sequence of events. So, if your sentence should indicate tim(e), such as ‘I had a cookie, then a bowl of ice cream’, use th(e)n. If your sentence compares such as ‘My cookie was better than a bowl of ice cream’ then use than
2.Lose or Loose. Lose means to misplace something, Loose means not tight, free, that sort of thing. So, think of it this way. If you mean something is lost… lose that extra o!
Okay…too much of a good thing makes your brain overload, so I’ll stop now. If you are interested in looking up more homonyms check out this site, http://www.grammarbook.com/homonyms/confusing-words-letter-a.asp  It’s a very comprehensive grammar website, I actually enjoy perusing.
 If you want to test your knowledge on homonyms, check out this quiz: http://www.usingenglish.com/quizzes/100.html  I got a 97%, can you beat me?


  1. You'll be surprised at how many writers still struggle with grammer and punctuation. I agree that people can throw tips at you left, right and centre and most of the time these go right over our heads. It's not always easy.

  2. It's never easy. You have to juggle so many things. Passion that makes you want to just get the words out onto the paper before you explode with them. Creativity, wanting to show everyone what's going on inside your head. And then all the rules... sentence structure, story arc, grammar, spelling... blah blah.

    I have been writing a very long time. I've been posting online for two years and have had an editor for most of that time. Through them, reading and editing myself, and listening to what people have to say about my writing, I have learned things I never learned, or don't remember, from school. When I look back, the writing I am producing now is immeasurably better, fom a technical point of view.