Grammar Grabs: “Who’s”/”Whose” and “You’re”/”Your”

by Laura on May 17, 2011 · 4 comments

Ah, possessives.  They drive us crazy.

In an ideal world, the writers of dictionaries and the big kahunas of language would decide that a new language structure to supplant those evil possessives MUST be put into effect, and we’d never have to worry about adding an apostrophe in the wrong spot ever again.  Our lives would be so much better for it.

However, the powers that be are not about to do that. And you and I have better uses for our time — like, enjoying spring, or watching paint dry — than rallying for grammar reform over structures that drive even the best writer to distraction.

So, instead of rallying, let’s just accept that possessives and apostrophes aren’t going anywhere and get them right.

If you can say “who is” or “you are” (in other words, if the verb to be is in the mix) you can use the apostrophe, because you can contract the subject and the verb.

Who is going to the 5K race on Saturday morning?” = “Who’s going to run the race — and, more importantly, who’s going to book the post-race brunch in a venue that offers mimosas, cold beers, or both?”

You are going to get clip-in pedals for your bike” = “You’re going to fall on your ass (and possibly rip your new padded shorts) a few times before you get the hang of those clip-in pedals…but you’ll be a much more efficient cyclist, with much foxier quads,once you figure them out.”

If something belongs to someone (or refers to someone or something), you would NOT use the apostrophe.

Whose stanky towel is laying over my clean clothes in the pool’s changing room?? EW!” (Because who is that stanky towel would not work here, obviously.  Neither does swearing at the towel owner…but that’s another matter.)

Or, you might also see…

“My friend UNCFanGirl — whose favorite running shirt is her ripped old UNC T-shirt from 1997 — is not really my style icon for looking fabulous while exercising.”

Your recipe for vegan pancakes rocked my world and I’ve eaten them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day since you gave it to me.”  (Again, you are recipe for vegan pancakes…no.)

Easy! We can now return to our regularly scheduled late-spring activities (whether they be clip-on pedal training, mimosa-downing, or stanky-towel removing).

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Hannah May 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm

These grammar tips are always great reminders for anyone for that matter, not just bloggers. I hate when people use “your” incorrectly-I see it everywhere-though I’m sure I’ve slipped up using it myself by accident.

Tina May 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Thanks. I don’t usually have trouble with the you’re versus your (unless by accident the same as Hannah), but I had never seen or considered who’s versus whose–which shows that I don’t know nearly as much as I should about grammar. Anyway, thanks again for an amazingly entertaining post considering the subject matter–you’ve got talent.

Becki May 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

I shudder a little bit everytime I see “your/you’re” used incorrectly… 😉
People ask why it matters so much. Yes, you can still communicate, and people get what you mean, but for me, it shocks me out of the moment a little. I could be enjoying a great tale or some factoid when suddenly the grammar just trips up and jolts me out of it. That’s why it matters to me that I get it right so my readers can enjoy what I’m telling them, and not get sidetracked by poor spelling.
Becki´s last post ..Centi-Post!

janetha @ meals & moves May 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Thank you for addressing this one! Such common mistakes!
janetha @ meals & moves´s last post ..palm springs- the everything in between

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