Please Use the Right Word

As professionals, using the English language correctly is imperative in presenting a positive image. This is especially true in written correspondence. Here are three common mistakes.

Your vs. You’re. Over the past two weeks I have seen “your” used incorrectly at least  5 times, no exaggeration. Here’s the difference.

“Your” is a pronoun, while “you’re” is a contraction for “You are.” Only use your if you are describing something (i.e. your bag, your car, etc.). If you are looking for a short way to say, “you are” (i.e. You’re a professional, You’re invited), then the contraction is necessary.

If this is too confusing, make life easy for yourself and just say “You are”, without using the contraction (look in this paragraph for examples). It is better to be safe than a butcher of the English language.  

There vs. Their vs. They’re. Here’s the difference. There is a place (i.e. The book is over there), while their is a possessive pronoun (i.e. Reading is their favorite hobby).

They’re is a contraction of they are. The rules for this one are similar to you’re, and the advice is the same. If you find it confusing, do not use the contraction. Write it out.  

It’s vs. its. While this one seems tricky, this is actually the easiest of the group. There are rules for this, but all you need to remember is “it’s” with the apostrophe is short for “it is.” For example, it’s good to proofread your work. Otherwise no apostrophe.

Now happy writing, and if necessary bookmark this entry. Do not keep tarnishing your professional image. 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady


One response to “Please Use the Right Word

  1. Hi Towanda
    Thanks for posting this! While everyone makes mistakes sometimes, it is important to get these basics correct. A couple of other errors I see often these days, even on resumes, is to spell “lose” as in “I didn’t lose any time” as “loose” and to spell led, as in “I led the team” as “lead”. I think it is because spell check doesn’t catch it and the more people see other people doing it, the more they think it is correct.


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