Just Ranting

By Ernest O’Dell – Guerrilla Internet Marketing

Anyone who has known me long enough knows how I come completely unhinged when I hear, or see, someone butchering the King’s English. I mean, come on! I know I type fast and make mistakes, but if you can’t learn the English language, then you don’t need to be calling yourself a writer of English… whatever!

Too often you see this on the Internet when someone writes an email or a sales letter, but when a writer makes the same mistake in a book, it’s almost unpardonable.

Too many mistakes are made with word usage, “Which one do I chose?” Hey! If you flunked English, then maybe you need to ask your English teacher! Unfortunately, it’s not something that can be remedied with spellchecker.

Here is a list of ten common word usage mistakes with explanations and examples of proper use:

There vs. Their vs. They’re

There is an indication of location.

Example: I want to see that book over there.

Their is a possessive version of they.

Example: They took their dog to the groomer.

They’re is a contraction, short for they are.

Example: They’re going to the theatre tonight.

Or… if you want to get fancy and use all three forms in a sentence then you can really sound stupid and say something like, “They’re going over there to their house to have a party.”

A lot vs. Allot vs. Alot

A lot is an indication of amount.

Example: I have a lot of laundry to do.

Allot means to distribute.

Example: I will allot you two cookies.

Alot is not even a word. Get over it!

I.e. vs. E.g.

I.e. means in other words.

Example: Writing more articles increases your website traffic. I.e., it will bring you more exposure.

E.g. means for example.

Example: I have a lot of chores to do (e.g., laundry, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, etc.) today.

To vs. Too vs. Two

To is a function word to indicate relative position.

Example: We took the dog to the vet.

Too can indicate excessiveness or in addition to.

Example: The chili was too spicy.

Example: I would like to go too.

Two is the number 2.

Example: I want two cookies.

Its vs. It’s

These two English words are used incorrectly excessively by native born speakers. (Do they not teach English in high school and college any more?)

It’s important that you understand the difference.


It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.”

It’s time to go.

Do you think it’s ready?

I read your article – it’s very good.

Do you know where my purse is? It’s on the table.

It’s been a long time.


Its is the possessive form of “it.”

That’s an interesting device – what is its purpose?

I saw Les Misérables during its initial run.

This stove has its own timer.

The bird lost some of its feathers.

Where is its head office?

The Bottom Line

The confusion between it’s and its occurs because on virtually every other word ‘s indicates possession, so English speakers naturally want to use it’s to mean “something belonging to it.” But it’s is only used when it’s a contraction of it is or it has.

The ironclad rule—no exceptions—is that if you can replace the word with “it is” or “it has,” use it’s. Otherwise, it’s always its.

Related difficulties:

apostrope s
hers vs her’s
ours vs our’s
theirs vs their’s
whose vs who’s
yours vs your’s

Anymore vs. Any more

Opinion concerning “anymore” vs “any more” divides roughly into three camps:

1.There is no such word as “anymore”. It is simply a misspelling. Get over it!
2.”Anymore” and “any more” are two ways of spelling the same thing, and the two have the same meaning.
3.There is a useful difference in meaning between the two.

About the first two camps, little more needs to be said. Either statement stands on its own merit and warrants no elaboration.

The difference in meaning considered useful by the third camp is that “anymore” is an adverb meaning “nowadays” or “any longer”, while “any more” can be either adverb plus adjective, as in “I don’t want any more pie”, or adjective plus noun, as in “I don’t want any more.”

The difference between the two meanings is illustrated in the sentence: “I don’t buy books anymore because I don’t need any more books.”

The distinction of “any more” and “anymore” seems to be recognized by many, but not all, US users and by dictionaries published in the US. Some British users recognize “anymore” as an alternative spelling of “any more”, but do not recognize a difference in meaning.

The adverb “anymore” is standard American English when it is used in a negative sense, as in “I don’t do that anymore.” It is a regional or dialectal usage, mostly restricted to spoken English, when it is used in a positive sense, meaning “nowadays”, as in “Anymore I do that” or “I do that anymore.”

And, last, but not least…

Then vs. Than

The English words than and then look and sound a lot alike, but they are completely different. If this distinction is harder than it should be, then go back and read this and try again.


Than is a conjunction used in comparisons:

Tom is smarter than Bill.
This is more important than you might think.
Is she taller than you?
No, I am taller than her (or she?). (You go figure it out!)

Technically, you should use the subject pronoun after than (e.g., I), as opposed to the object pronoun (me). However, English speakers commonly use the object pronoun.


Then has numerous meanings.

At that point in time I wasn’t ready then.
Will you be home at noon? I’ll call you then.

Next, afterward

I went to the store, and then to the bank
Do your homework and then go to bed

In addition, also, on top of that

He told me he was leaving, and then that I owed him money
It cost $5,000, and then there’s tax too

In that case, therefore (often with “if”)

If you want to go, then you’ll have to finish your homework.
I’m hungry! Then you should eat.

Than is used only in comparisons, so if you’re comparing something use than. If not, then you have to use then. What could be easier than that?
And, then there’s grammar, syntax and punctuation. But, enough of that. That’s another rant.


1 Comment

  1. Great post. Nice internet marketing skills. I hope I could learn everything you know. I will do my home work.

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