Today I have to ask you this confrontational question: “Does your grammar suck?”
Does your grammar suck?
Do you know the difference between there, their, and they’re? Your and you’re? Its and it’s? Two, too, and to? Is it lay down, laid down, or lie down? A lot, alot, or allot? Do you know the rules? Because that’s what it really comes down to. Rules.
If you’re a writer who has trouble with the above examples, you’ll need to brush up on your grammar. Nobody is going to take you seriously if your grammar sucks. You can’t afford to mess up.
OK, now that I’ve been a total jerk for long enough, let me try to make it up to you. English may not be my mother-tongue, but I have a pretty good grasp on the language, and I certainly know how to help you with the issues I mentioned above.
Your grammar does not need to suck
There, their, and they’re – “They’re there, looking for their books.”
They’re is a contraction of the pronoun they and the verb are: they are. Their is a possessive adjective, and there is an adverb referring to a place.
Your and you’re – “You’re going to have to work on your grammar.”
You’re is a contraction of the pronoun you and the verb are: you are. Your is a possessive adjective.
Its and it’s – “It’s raining cats and dogs,” vs. “the dog hurt its paw.”
It’s is, again, a contraction, meaning it is. Its is, again, a possessive adjective.
Two, too, and to – “These two people are going to London, too,” and, “This is too hard to understand.”
Two is simply the number two. Too means also, and is generally used at the end of a sentence. But too can also be used meaning more than enough. Too much, too hard. To is either a preposition (as in going to London), or as part of the infinitive form of a verb (as in to understand).
Lay down, laid down or lie down – “I laid the book down on the table before I lay down on the sofa.”
Lay is a transitive verb and needs an object. You lay something down. Laid is the past tense of to lay. The verb lie, on the other hand, is intransitive and cannot have an object. You lie down, or, in the past tense, you lay down (yesterday, or an hour ago, but not now).
A lot, alot, or allot – “I’ll allot him ten minutes to explain himself, and he has a lot to explain.”
Allot is a verb, meaning assign or dedicate. A lot denotes a large quantity. And alot is simply wrong. There is no such word. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t write alot when you mean a lot.
Now, go and sin no more! 😉
Meanwhile, I’ll be praying that no accidental cock-ups found their way into this blog post, because that would be too embarrassing.