PG went out on his bike, and saw something disturbing. A small American flag was laying in the dirt. PG leaned his bike against a mailbox, which might be illegal, and looked at the situation. The pole was broken in half, and the flag was filthy. Before you could say Supreme Court Decision, the flag was in the luggage box on the bike.
Burning a worn out flag is the proper way to dispose of it. “When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.” A splash of rubbing alcohol, and a kitchen match were applied. The flag was made of a flame resistant material. Maybe that was part of the Supreme Court ruling, or perhaps another helpful regulation. PG turned the remains over and lit it again. Finally, the embers were doused in water, and the ashes buried next to the driveway.
Going inside, there was a post to be considered, The Seven Deadly Spelling Sins. The first sentence should send any sane person running… “Because I am a writing teacher and a former editor, I am constantly exposed to the most egregious mistakes in writing, grammar, and spelling.” PG is not a sane person. Here is the post, with supplemental comments for your reading pleasure.
1. There, Their, and They’re These are three different words, and they are not interchangeable. “There” refers to a place and is the opposite of “here.” “Their” refers to ownership of something. “They’re” is a contraction that means “they are,” as in: They are having a spelling party.
This is what is known as a homophone. You might have thought that was a communications device in midtown. If you think about it a bit, you realize that one is possessive, one is a place, and one is a clumsy third person plural verb. They’re going to take their ice cream and go there with it.
2. To and Too “To” is the beginning of any infinitive form of a verb: to run, to be, to smile, to write, to blog. Taking foreign language classes is the best way to drive this one home. It is also a preposition. “Too” means “also” or “in addition to.” It can also mean “in excess,” as in: There are too many shoes in my closet. (Well, that’s simply not possible, but you get the idea.)
This forgets two, which is a number, but the spelling is so different that usually the distinction is made. Just like spelling, as in bee, is different from Aaron Spelling. He was the father of Tori Spelling, and a Hollywood producer. Aaron Spelling made lots of money, built the biggest house in California, and was married to Morticia Addams.
3. You’re and Your “You’re” is a contraction form of “you are.” “Your” again refers to ownership.
Words like this are a problem with spell check. If the word is spelled conventionally, it will not set off the device. This also happens when you mean to say to, but type do instead. This is a normal word, and spell check will not know the difference. The possibility exists of a grammar program that will catch mistakes like this.
4. Judgment This word never ever (in the United States) has an “e” in the middle.
Words like this are pronounced in different ways by white people and black people. White people say “munt”, and accent the first syllable. Black people say “mint”, and accent the second syllable. The mint sounds like a brand of gum, like spearmint or double mint. Did you know that the doublemint twins have had substance abuse issues? They are currently in a twenty four step program.
5. Definitely I don’t know why, but some 90 percent of my students have difficulty spelling this word. There is it, in black and white. Memorize it. I have seen it misspelled as: Defiantly, Definately, Definetley, Definitly And so on. I’m sure there are numerous variations to a bad spelling.
PG is part of the ninety percent here. This is a toughie. Maybe if you break it down into parts, it will make sense. De Finite Ly. De is pronounced duh, which is smart. Finite means only so many, all there is and there ain’t no more. Ly is one of those suffixes that gets tacked onto everything.
6. Its and It’s Again, we have a contraction. The contraction means that two words have been combined, so “it’s” means “it is.” Now, the tricky part is the fact that possession usually uses an apostrophe. However, because this apostrophe is already taken for “it is,” “its” refers to possession in this case.
This is one of those things that make you think English was invented by a race of drunks who call soccer football. To any reasonable person, a word meaning possession should have an apostrophe and s. Here, it’s means it is. Sometimes, the best thing to do is play along and don’t wonder why things are so screwed up.
7. Lightning This one is my personal pet peeve. This refers to that giant flash of light in the sky that usually occurs during a rainstorm and is always followed by thunder. However, I see many people spell it as “lightening,” which can refer to making something lighter, in color or weight. However, it also means the dropping of the baby before a woman gives birth, and that’s what I always think of. So, when people write on Facebook, “The lightening was fantastic last night,” I can’t help but wonder if they are relieved to have finally given birth.
PG was going to end with a comment about religion, but was afraid of being hit by lightning.