What’s your biggest spelling pet-peeve? There are 3 that rank at the top for me: 1) to/two/too; 2) there/their/they’re; and 3) your/you’re. Even though most people know the differences between the meanings for each of these common mistakes, they blunder all over the place with them and think it just doesn’t matter. Well, it does matter, so maybe these tricks will help you keep it straight and make it easier to avoid these mistakes in future writing.
“To” is only 2 letters and it implies direction: from X to X. Example: I’m going to give this pen to John. The first “to” is the direction of intent: an action will take place; the second “to” is the direction of the actual action: the pen moved from X to X.
“TWO” is the number after 1 and before 3. The “w” is your clue that the #2 is spelled T-W-O because the “w”, centered between 2 other letters, has 2 cheeks to its butt that sits on the line.
“Too” means more, or also. It has the letter “o” in it more than any other spelling. It has an “o” and it has another “o” too! Because of this spelling, you can visualize the concept of more, more, more! Example: I want ice cream, too! This means that more than one person wants ice cream, or that one person wants more than just ice cream.
The trick to these is to take off the “T” and see what you’ve got:
“There” is a place. Take off the “T” and you’ve’ got “here”. “Here” is a place and we all know that quite clearly!
“Their” implies ownership, something belongs to some group of people. Take off the “T” and you’ve got “heir” – someone’s rightful ownership of something passed on or given.
“They’re” is the contraction of “they” + “are”. Example: they’re going to the party. Take off the “T” and you’ve got instant enthusiasm: Hey! Are you guys going to the party!
“Your” implies ownership. Let the “r” at the end of the word lead you into critical doubt: you – really the owner??
“You’re” is the contraction between “you” + “are”. “You’re” plus one more word makes a full and complete sentence; this is something you can’t do with the other spelling (your). Example: You’re great! If you mess these two up, you make no sense at all. “Your great” leaves the reader having a hey day with a wild imagination – your what is great?! Oh my!
The statement, “Your my best friend” drives me nuts. Whenever I read this I feel a bit paranoid and extra protective of my stuff. My what is your best friend??