Frank’nstein’d

You know those little dangly things that stick up in the middle of words sometimes? No, not the dot in an i or a j. I mean the ones that show up in the middle of an otherwise normal word and stick WAY the hell up like they’re–ah! There’s one! AHH! And another!

cat1

Get it get it get it.

When that mark appears in the middle of a word like “they’re” or “there’s,” it’s an apostrophe. “Apostrophe” probably comes from Greek but I’m too lazy to look it up. Let’s just assume it means “little dangly thing in the middle of a word.”
Apostrophes have several uses. They show possession, as in The cat’s fabulous hairdo.
 
cat wig
Most of us, thank dog, have a grasp on that usage. The difference between “the cats” (plural, multiple cats) and “the cat’s” (possessive, single cat) is fairly easy to see. If it’s not easy for you to see, just nod your head anyway and we’ll cover it in a later post.

 

What certain people on the Internet seem to have a harder time with is the difference between a word like “your” (possessive) and “you’re,” which is a contraction of “you” + “are.” The same goes for its/it’s and their/they’re/there. This is something that will literally drive grammar people up a wall, almost as much as misusing the word “literally.”

 

catwall
Literally.

 

“You’re” and “your” are homophones, like those in Claire’s last post. They sound alike and mean totally different things. But there’s a foolproof way to think about this so that you don’t uset the wrong

Contractions like “you’re,” “it’s,” and “don’t” are like Frankenstein’s monster.
 
Frankencat-l1
It’s ‘FRAHN-ken-steen.’

 

Frankenstein’s monster, for those of you who slept through tenth-grade English, was cobbled together out of corpses, which is something it’s better not to think about too deeply. This is why any self-respecting portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster has to include those big-ass scars.

 

frankenkitty
Bonus lesson: calling the monster “Frankenstein” and not “Frankenstein’s monster” is a quick way to distinguish English majors from everyone else. The English majors will begin twitching uncontrollably.

 

In a contraction like “you’re,” think of the apostrophe like a scar. You, Dr. Frankenstein, have stitched together the words “you” and “are” to make a perfect killing machine–I’m sorry, I mean contraction. A perfect contraction. Yes.
But that “a” in “are” turned out to be superfluous, like having two kidneys, so you cut it out. Removing the letter left a scar, which is the apostrophe.

 

You + are = you’re
Its_alive_cat

 

Now let’s say you’re casually writing a sentence. You want to tell your BFF, Fluffy, that you caught and killed one of her favorite birds, which happens to be a grackle. But do you say “you’re favorite bird” or “your favorite bird”?

 

Un-Frankenstein it to be sure. Would you say “you are favorite bird”? No, because then it starts to sound like Fluffy is a bird, and she will cut you if you start spreading rumors like that.

 

catbird
Bitch, don’t even.

 

By deduction, we need “your” in this case: “Your favorite bird.”

 

Now, if you want to make it up to Fluffy and tell her that she’s the best cat in the world, you’d say:

 

“You’re the best” = “[you + are] the best.”

 

At this point you can stop thinking about it and move on, because “your the best” does not make any kind of sense whatsoever and will provoke grammar people into a frothing rage.
angry-cat-birthday-hat
The same trick works for “it’s” (it + is), “they’re” (they + are), and “I’m” (I + am). If you can’t break it apart, it was never stitched together in the first place.

 

Example 1:
Look at its cute little face!
deadpancat

 

Do I mean “look at [it + is] cute little face”? No, that doesn’t make sense. Therefore “its” is correct.

 

Example 2:
It’s coming toward us! Run!
scarycat

 

Do I mean “[It + is] coming toward us”? Yes!

 

NOW RUN.
Advertisements