Wednesday, June 5

Homophones




We have 7 target words for today’s lesson:


(1) There

(2) Their

(3) They’re

(4) Your

(5) You’re

(6) Its

(7) It’s



These 7 expressions are the best examples of confusing words in the English language. Because when you pair them up, they start to sound very similar to each other and many people have trouble using them.



In fact, you will see many jokes, memes, and products on the Internet that feature these confusing expressions.



For example, this T-shirt print is from online retailer Zazzle:







Pronunciation



If you’re hoping to learn them through Pronunciation, then it’s going to be hard.  



There,” “their” and “they’re” are Homophones. “Your” and “you’re” are Homophones. And “its” and “it’s” are also Homophones.



What are Homophones



Well, to begin with, they're definitely not like your headphones. 



image courtesy of stock.xchng


Homophones are words that have the same sound but have different spelling. For example, “to,”  “too,” and “two.”  



Take a look at how our 7 expressions are pronounced:


(1) There = /ðer/

(2) Their = /ðer/

(3) They’re = /ðer/



(4) Your = /jʊr/ or /jɔr/

(5) You’re = /jʊr/ or /jɔr/



(6) Its = /ɪts/

(7) It’s = /ɪts/



As you can see, in terms of Pronunciation, the paired words have the same sound.



What’s the difference then?



In order to know the difference between all our expressions, you have to know 2 things: (1) Contraction, and (2) Possessive.




#1. Contraction



Just like in our previous lessons, a Contraction means the shorter form of a word or words.



For example,


cannot = can’t

should have = should’ve

I would = I’d

etc.



Why are Contractions important in today’s lesson?



Because if you will kindly look at our list of expressions again, you will notice that not all of them are single words:



(1) There = 1 word

(2) Their = 1 word

(3) They’re = 2 words; contraction

(4) Your = 1 word

(5) You’re = 2 words; contraction

(6) Its = 1 word

(7) It’s = 2 words; contraction



The three expressions “they’re,” “you’re” and “it’s” are not single words but two words fused together. The original expressions are:



They’re = They are

You’re = You are

It’s = It is



This means that if you want to use these 3 expressions inside a sentence, NEVER use them as words.



Take a look:


They took they’re bags. = X

You left you’re wallet. = X

The dog ate it’s food. = X



The third one is the most difficult to notice. Because it is very similar to the other expression “its” without apostrophe (').



Learners know well how confusing it is to use all these 3 expressions. Especially when they are writing or typing. And in this age of Facebook and Twitter, when we often chat with our friends online or post our status updates, it’s very common to make spelling mistakes. And one tiny mistake can become big or permanent. If it’s public, almost anybody can read it.



If you’d like to know more about how to avoid spelling errors online, just click the links below:



So the next time you use any of these 3 expressions: “They’re,” “You’re,” and “It’s,” just remember that they’re not words. They’re Contractions. They were originally two words fused together. That’s why they look like single words. But they’re not.



When you use them inside a sentence, use them like this:


They’re getting hungry. = Ok

You’re always beautiful. = Ok

It’s not too late. = Ok



These sentences are the same as:


They are getting hungry. = Ok

You are always beautiful. = Ok

It is not too late. = Ok




#2. Possessives



Now what are Possessives? Possessives are words that mean ownership. They show us that something belongs to somebody (or something).



For example, “her father,” “his money,” “our house,” etc.



If you are already familiar with Possessives, then you will notice that, again, 3 of the words on our list are PossessivesTake a look:


(1) There

(2) Their = Possessive

(3) They’re

(4) Your = Possessive

(5) You’re

(6) Its = Possessive

(7) It’s



Actually, to be exact, the three words (their, your, and its) are Possessive Adjectives.



What does this mean?



This means that if you want to use any of these 3 words, you’d better put a Noun after them. Like this:



Possessive Adjective + Noun


Ex.


their car

your umbrella

its tail

etc.


Got it?



You probably remember by now that the 3 words belong to the Pronouns Table that you learned (memorized) in school before. It looks like this:



Subject Pronouns

Object Pronouns

Possessive Adjectives
Possessive Pronouns
Reflexive
Pronouns
I
me
my
mine
myself
He
him
his
his
himself
She
her
her
hers
herself
We
us
our
ours
ourselves
You
you
your
yours
yourself / yourselves
They
them
their
theirs
themselves
It
it
its
(none)
itself




If you still haven’t memorized this table, it would be wise for you to do so because the words here are basic and very commonly used in English.



And if you take another look, you will see that our 3 words are there at the bottom. They are all of the same type:



Subject Pronouns

Object Pronouns

Possessive Adjectives
Possessive Pronouns
Reflexive
Pronouns
I
me
my
mine
myself
He
him
his
his
himself
She
her
her
hers
herself
We
us
our
ours
ourselves
You
you
your
yours
yourself / yourselves
They
them
their
theirs
themselves
It
it
its
(none)
itself




So the next time you use these 3 words, don’t forget to put a Noun after them.


Ex.


Your late. = X

You forgot your cellphone. = Ok


Their coming. = X

Their message is strange. = Ok


Its a dog. = X

The bag is too big, but its color is good. = Ok



If you want to have a quick review of the Possessives, just click this link:



Lastly



We have discussed all our target words except one: “There.”



There” is often used in 2 ways:



(1) It is used to say that something exists or happens


Ex.


There is a problem.

Is there anything I can help you with?

There were 5 kittens under the table.



As you can see from our examples, the pattern “there+is” or “there+was” etc. is very common when we want to use “there.”



(2) "There" is also used to refer to a place


Ex.


Who is the man standing over there?

I live there.

The opportunity was right there but I didn’t take it.



Of course these are not all of the uses of “There,” but these are the most common.




In Summary



You have to remember 2 things and know the big difference between them:



(1) Contraction = short form of words


(2) Possessive = shows ownership



And when you're posting on Facebook, Twitter etc., remember that Contractions carry an apostrophe (‘) but Possessives don’t.



So be careful with:



Their vs. They’re

Your vs. You’re

Its vs. It’s



In summary,



Contraction

Ownership
Existence
/ Place

They’re
their
there
You’re
your

It’s
its







Hope You Learned Something!
Keep on learning !













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