This is an admittedly unscientific poll, but I’ve noticed over the years that the most common grammatical error across all types of writings seems to be the confusion of the word “you’re,” with the word “your.” Most of the time it occurs as the use of “your” when the writer meant “you’re.” But it pops up everywhere. I’ve seen it in all sorts of writings, especially on Facebook posts and in other places where the writer was either in a hurry or didn’t stop to proofread his/her writing. Even once on a Post-It Note. Not long ago I saw it in a commercial on TV. And that’s someplace where the error was shown nationwide. All because the writer (and the marketing or advertising firm behind the commercial) either didn’t proofread or didn’t know one of the simplest of grammatical rules.
At the risk of boring those of you reading this with some information you already know, the word “you’re” is a contraction for “you are.” As in, “You’re my sweetheart.” (After all, today is Valentine’s Day.) On the other hand, the word “your” indicates possession or ownership, such as, “Here’s your valentine today.” That shouldn’t be too difficult to remember.
I’m not so sure that many of the errors we see of this type are because writers don’t know the difference, and I suspect many do, but I wonder if the main reason is that sometimes people don’t think about what they’re writing. (Don’t get me going on there-their-they’re.) I wonder if the error comes as much from the tendency nowadays to scribble something down and not go back and re-read it. Just zip through and get it down. I suspect a lot of Facebook posts are like that. Many Facebook posts contain errors of other types too, though the “your/you’re” boo-boo seems to be the most common. I always proofread my Facebook posts, even if it’s only a few words in response to someone else’s post. I’m sure some mistakes have gotten through over the years, but at least I try.
Is life in our society so hurried that people don’t have enough time to think about what they’re putting down on paper or on a com screen? I guess it is. But the person who can use the rules of grammar correctly has the edge in one of the most basic of societal needs: that of communication. We are immersed in an absolute of glut of forms of communications nowadays, and knowing how to use them properly is almost mandatory. Watch what you’re writing. Proofread. Everything. You’ll be better off for it. Surely you don’t want your grammatical errors shown on nationwide television.