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7 simple grammar rules EVERYONE should know

Grammar is fun! Well, not really. But it helps.

“YOUR WRONG. Apple’s are nicer too eat than banana’s.”

Does seeing a sentence like that send a shiver down your spine? It’s grammar, calling to you from beyond the grave.

We’ve given you a few tips on how to spell notoriously tricky everyday words, now it’s time for a grammar lesson. Some of these rules may seem extremely basic, but are secretly out to ruin our lives and embarrass us on the internet.

Eyes front, everyone.

1) There/Their/They’re

UGH. Who, when thinking up words for the English language, decided to make three that sound the same but have entirely different meanings? It’s like they want us to fail.

Let’s clear it up, once and for all.

  • “There” means “in or at a place/point”.

didneyworld Flickr / Glen Scarborough Flickr / Glen Scarborough / Glen Scarborough

  • “Their” is possessive.

colinpom Twitter / @emmajbradshaw Twitter / @emmajbradshaw / @emmajbradshaw

  • “They’re” is a contraction of “they are”.

theyreicecream Shutterstock Shutterstock

2) Its/It’s

When do I use the apostrophe? When do I leave it out? Can I give up speaking English and communicate in grunts instead?

No need to jump to extremes.

  • “Its” is possessive.

shibetail Flickr / Taro the Shibe Inu Flickr / Taro the Shibe Inu / Taro the Shibe Inu

  • “It’s” is a contraction of “it is”.

catcrazy Flickr / Ana yoo Flickr / Ana yoo / Ana yoo

3) Your/You’re

This one is probably one of the nastier rules, because “your” flouts the “apostrophe = possessive” rule, which we’ll go into more detail about later.

This is as simple as we can make it.

  • “Your” is possessive.


  • “You’re” is a contraction of “you are”.

hagrid Fanpop Fanpop

4) Two/To/Too

Another case of three words with entirely different meanings, sounding exactly the same.

It’s easy to pick out the number two from the line up, but the others need to come forward and explain themselves.

  • “Two” is a number.

twokittens Flickr / Lil Shepherd Flickr / Lil Shepherd / Lil Shepherd

  • “To” denotes an action.

cornershop Flickr / jaqian Flickr / jaqian / jaqian

  • “Too” means “also”.

tookids Shutterstock Shutterstock

5) Apostrophes

There is a reason this t-shirt strikes fear in the heart of any pedant:

Right. Here’s where things get a little tricky. Though the apostrophe-less “its”, “whose” and “your” are possessive, with pretty much everything else an apostrophe is needed to show ownership.

The boy’s dog. The girl’s guitar. Sarah’s pencil.
The t-shirt, however, is aiming for a plural, which doesn’t require an apostrophe.
The boys are going out. Girls just wanna have fun.

So the above t-shirt is wrong because, as the original tweeter says, kiss the boy’s what? Arms? Legs?

It should read: “Kiss the boys and make them smile.” Penneys, up your game.

6) Who’s/Whose

Ah, who’s/whose, our old nemesis. Let us spell this one out for you right here.

  • “Who’s” is a contraction of “who is” or “who has”.

whosfassbender Press Association Images Press Association Images

  • “Whose” is possessive.

bikewhose Flickr / pcambra Flickr / pcambra / pcambra

7) Could have/Would have/Should have

Seeing “could of” written down is one of the more shiver-inducing grammar mistakes around. Why is this happening? What does it mean?

couldof Shutterstock Shutterstock

What they’re trying to say is “could’ve” which is a contraction of “could have”.

This is never interchangeable with “could of” which doesn’t mean anything, ever.

Read: 7 annoyingly tricky words and tips to help you spell them>

More: How to use ‘literally’ the correct way, as shown by a six-year-old>

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