Thursday, June 30, 2011


The correct spelling for the number 2 is "two."  Think "twice" before spelling it out.  There's a "w" in both words, as well as in other variations of the number such as "twenty" and "twins."

When the meaning is "also" or "excessive," the word is spelled "too."  For any usage other than the foregoing, the proper word is "to."  ("I am going to the store.  They are going to the store, too."  "There are too many people to fit in the car.")  One way to remember the distinction is to think of the way it sounds when spoken.  Technically, the words are pronounced the same, but some people emphasize the "oo" sound of the word "too" more than they do with "to," especially when they're speaking quickly (as we all do sometimes!).  Another way to remember is to keep in mind that the word "too," which signifies "in addition" or "in excess," is the one with the extra "o."

Incorrect: "I am going too the store."
Correct: "I am going to the store."

Incorrect: "This is to much money."
Correct: "This is too much money."

Incorrect: "She will be going to."
Correct: "She will be going too."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Have vs. Of

Quite often, people are thrown by the way a phrase is pronounced, and they subsequently carry the confusion into their written text.  I often see incorrect usage of the word "of," as in the following examples: Should of / Would of / Could of / Must of.  There are no such expressions in American English.  In all cases, the second word should be have, not of.  The correct phrases are should have, would have, could have, and must have.

When these phrases are spoken, people will often use the contracted form of the two words, as in: Should've/Would've/Could've/Must've, which doubtless led to the mistaken belief that the second word is "of" rather than "have."  Sometimes in casual speech, folks will use the slang terms "shoulda," "woulda," "coulda" and even "musta," which helps to blur things further, especially given the fact that the slang word "kinda" does mean "kind of."  In informal writing, the proper and correct contractions for Should have/Would have/Could have/Must have are Should've/Would've/Could've/Must've.  In formal writing, it is best to spell out the two words.  In any case, the word "of" is never used.

The foregoing refers to phrases of intent.  For other usages, such as "I must have a cup of coffee now" or "The dog should have a bath," it would be incorrect to write or say "must've" or "should've."

To summarize:

Should of, would of, could of and must of are all incorrect.
The correct phrases are: Should have, would have, could have, and must have.

The contractions should've, would've, could've, and must've are used informally.

Incorrect: "We should of gone to the beach."  "I must of left my bathing suit at home."
Correct: "We should have gone to the beach.  "I must have left my bathing suit at home."  "We could've gone to the beach today."  "We would've gone to the beach if it hadn't rained."

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Their, there and they're are soundalike words that have entirely different meanings.  Starting with the easiest one to define, the contraction "they're" means "they are" - and that's all it means.  Using anything other than "they're" for "they are" is incorrect, as is using "they're" to mean anything but "they are."  Further, the usage of "they're" for "they are" presumes that one or more words follow the contraction.  Writing or saying "They're late" is correct, but writing/saying "Here they're" for "Here they are" isn't.

As for the other two, the word "there" has multiple meanings, but possession isn't one of them.  Many people write "there" when they mean to use "their," as in belonging to two or more people ("They need to watch their language."  "They're out of their minds.").  Their is a possessive pronoun, just like your, our, his or her.

For anything other than "they are" (they're) or "belonging to them" (their), the correct word is thereThere often refers to a place or destination, and an easy way to remember this is to keep in mind that the words "where" and "here," which also refer to places/destinations, are spelled similarly, and "where" and "there" both have the word "here" in them.  ("There they are!  They're late, and they've forgotten their books.")

Incorrect: "Their out of there minds."
Correct: "They're out of their minds."

Incorrect: "Their they are."
Correct: "There they are."

Incorrect: "They forgot they're books."
Correct: "They forgot their books."