Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Your/You're, There/Their/They're - I Think I Know Why


The image above says it all, doesn't it?

If you've been on the Internet for more than six months, chances are you've run into people who confuse "your" and "you're".

Maybe you've even been guilty of it yourself.

Well, I have a theory as to where the confusion comes from.

When I was growing up, it never occurred to me that anybody could confuse those two words. In fact, the first I heard of it was back in 1998 (at the tender age of 18 years), when I first got online.

I think it stems from the fact that most Americans (depending on where in North America you live) pronounce "your" and "you're" as homophones - something like "yure". Come to think of it, that's probably where the chat/SMS abbreviation "ur" comes from, which is used for both words... although I've also seen people using "ur" exclusively to abbreviate "your" and "ure" to abbreviate "you're".

But I digress. As a South African, I've never pronounced either of those words that way. I grew up pronouncing "your" as "yore" (As in, "Days of yore"), and when I say it, "you're" sounds more like "you-er".

Now, to me, "there" and "their" are homophones, and so I will admit to occasionally getting those two mixed up. But "they're" sounds nothing whatsoever like them - similarly to "you're", I pronounce it as something like "they-er".

While it started as an American thing, I've seen quite a few South Africans getting it wrong over the last few years - and I think that has to do with the proliferation of American culture into our lives; not only from movies and TV shows, but in general because we interact with Americans more and more on a daily basis.

What do you think? Have you ever misused any of those four words? If so, do you agree with my analysis, that it's the American accent that's the "problem"?

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