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Grammar lesson of the month: commonly confused words (and the best place for beach volleyball in SD!)

June 2, 2014

It’s or its? You’re or your? They’re or their or there? Today on the CISL Blog, we are looking at commonly misused words in English. Many of these words are misused by both native and non-native speakers!

Commonly confused words in English

It’s and its

It’s is a contraction and means “it is,” while its is a possessive that indicates ownership.

Examples:

  • It’s hot in here. (It is hot in here.)
  • It’s a good idea to turn on the air conditioner. (It is a good idea . . .)
  • The dog can walk on its back legs!
  • I think the bird likes its new toy. It’s playing with it.

 

You’re and your

You’re is a contraction and means “you are,” while your is a possessive.

Examples:

  • You’re a great friend. (You are a great friend.)
  • I like your dress.
  • You’re an excellent student.
  • Your English is great! So is your pronunciation.

 

They’re and their and there

They’re is a contraction and means “they are”; their is a possessive; there is an indicator of place.

Examples:

  • They’re so happy: today they’re going to the beach!
  • I hope they brought their sunscreen.
  • They are over there, next to the lifeguard tower.
  • They’re playing beach volleyball.
  • Their ball is multi-colored.
  • If you go over there, please tell them I want to play during the next game!

 

Vocabulary practice + Places to play beach volleyball in SD!

Can you complete the following paragraph with the correct forms of the words described above? Use IT’S, ITS, YOU’RE, YOUR, THEIR, THERE, or THEY’RE in the blanks. 

 

__________ are several places in SD where you can practice __________ volleyball skills, especially if __________ looking for beach volleyball! Hop on __________ beach cruiser and ride south down Mission Beach to the very end: __________ not a very long ride, and __________ very enjoyable! At the end of the beach, you will see the courts. If __________ feeling brave, ask some strangers if you can join in on a game. If you brought __________ own ball, you can always play with some friends and pass the ball around without a net: __________ a great way to warm up! __________ are also volleyball poles on the northern end of Mission Beach, but you must bring __________ own net. If you would like to buy one, __________ not hard to find: most drug stores sell them. (There is a CVS one street away: check there first!) Have a great time working on __________ serve and __________ tan while you play beach volleyball, and remember: __________ also improving your English skills, so __________ killing three birds with one stone!

Answers: 

There are several places in SD where you can practice your volleyball skills, especially if you’re looking for beach volleyball! Hop on your beach cruiser and ride south down Mission Beach to the very end: it’s not a very long ride, and it’s very enjoyable! At the end of the beach, you will see the courts. If you’re feeling brave, ask some strangers if you can join in on a game. If you brought your own ball, you can always play with some friends and pass the ball around without a net: it’s a great way to warm up! There are also volleyball poles on the northern end of Mission Beach, but you must bring your own net. If you would like to buy one, it’s not hard to find: most drug stores sell them. (There is a CVS one street away: check there first!) Have a great time working on your serve and your tan while you play beach volleyball, and remember: you’re also improving your English skills, so you’re killing three birds with one stone!

Image via Shutterstock.

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