#oneaday, Day 24: Your Over Their

The T-shirt in the comic above actually exists. So we’ve arrived at a situation where people don’t even proofread clothing.

Actually, I remember a friend who works in the printing business telling me a while back that it’s not the responsibility of the printing company to proofread or correct things like this; it’s the original designer’s fault. And it’s true—it is the original designer’s fault and they should be ridiculed for producing it (especially as it’s a pretty shitty design anyway), not to mention the idiots who pay money for it. I know for a fact if I was asked to print the T-shirt above I’d find it incredibly difficult to not correct it, though.

The reason? I believe in the sanctity of language. That’s a pretentious way of saying that I believe strongly that we should continue to spell things “correctly”. I know, I know, language changes over time and all that. But the reason we have certain rules in place with today’s modern form of English is to aid understanding.

Take “your” vs. “you’re”. We have two forms of “your/you’re” to prevent ambiguity. “You’re”, as everyone knows* is short for “you are”, with the apostrophe denoting that at least one letter has been removed to form a contraction. “Your”, on the other hand, is simply a possessive pronoun used as a an attributive adjective showing when something belongs to “you”. “If your single, so am I” doesn’t make any grammatical sense because, assuming that “single” is being used as a noun (which it should be if it’s following the word “your”) it needs a verb, otherwise the response to the T-shirt’s slogan is “If my single is what?”. “If you’re single, so am I” does make sense, however, because it’s saying “If you are single, so am I”. Which is a stupid and somewhat sluttish statement to make, but grammatically correct.

Unless, of course, they were going for a very heavily-buried programming joke. You know, like when you’re programming in C or something similar and instead of saying “if (single = true) { haveSexWithMe(); };” you can instead say “if (single) { haveSexWithMe(); };”. Essentially, then, suggesting that the full slogan is in fact “If your single status is firmly confirmed without any possibility of you being a cheating skank-basket, you can assume I am also single, even if I am not in reality”, but shortened to fit across someone’s boobies. I somehow think this scenario is unlikely, however.

Some accuse people who get riled about this sort of thing of being snobs. And perhaps we are; but to my mind, there’s not really a good excuse for using the wrong “your”. It’s two extra keystrokes to type “you’re”, a couple more flicks of the pen. We’re taught how to use “your” and “you’re” in primary school. I know plenty of people who have difficulties such as dyslexia who still know how to use the correct form of “your” and do so.

The only explanation I can come up with, then, is either laziness, ignorance or both. In an environment such as the Internet, your (yes, YOUR) written words are how you make your first impression. In reality you don’t walk into crowded rooms shouting “HERP DERP HERP”, belming and masturbating furiously, do you? So make sure you use the right word once in a while, hmm?**

* Well… apparently not.
** I am not for a second saying that using “your” instead of “you’re” means that you’re the sort of person who enters a room belming, masturbating furiously and shouting “HERP DERP HERP”. Although you might be. In which case you quite possibly deserve everything you get.

Published by

Pete Davison

Southampton-based music teacher, writer and enthusiast of Japanese popular culture.

7 thoughts on “#oneaday, Day 24: Your Over Their”

  1. I am a belligerent bugger about grammar and punctuation. Yes, I may occasionally over use the semi;colon, and write far too many complex sentences which drone on for far too long.. a bit like this really.

    Sorry where was I?

    I’m dyslexic and that has nothing to do with being able to use an apostrophe.

    Being able to use grammar is about remembering, taking time out to review what you write and actually caring. I never understand why people don’t care; after all, you’re right, the internet is all about first written impressions and projecting oneself as too lazy to check your own work isnt the greatest of starts.

    1. Absolutely. I have no shame in saying that I do judge people based on how they choose to communicate online. It’s probably unfair. In fact, I know it’s unfair because I know some “real life” friends and acquaintances who give the impression of semi-to-total illiteracy when online, yet are perfectly articulate in reality.

      But yes; when you’re meeting someone online for the first time, all you have to go on is their words, and possibly a profile picture. I always like to set a good first impression wherever possible, whatever the context. I spell and punctuate correctly in IM messages and online games, most of the time anyway. It costs nothing. Not even time; in fact I actually type slower if I’m doing it wrong. I have to make a specific effort to typ lyk dis.

      And don’t even get me started on cuntish teenagers wHo TyP lYk DiS. Pffffft.

      I am an unabashed snob. And I don’t care!🙂

  2. I don’t think it applies in the you’re/your thing because that, like you said, causes confusion when used wrongly, but language does naturally evolve over time… so we’re going to have to get used to some misspellings and grammatical no-nos. Also, is there a hint of deliberate facetiousness in this shirt’s misspelling?

    1. Language changes over time; I don’t dispute that. But that doesn’t mean accepting things that are just plain wrong! Grammatical flexibility is all well and good too—we all do it, after all. It’s why we have our own personalities and voices in both speech and writing. But within that flexibility are some core rules that shouldn’t be broken. Spelling and using the correct homophones should be one of them!

      I don’t believe the shirt is being facetious, either. I don’t know what it’s doing. But it’s not right!🙂

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