Thursday, April 10, 2014

Language Arts for YOUR Information--Part One

Image provided by:Stuart
When I was in Grade Nine I had a fantastic Language Arts teacher named Dixie Stickel. She was one of those teachers that had a gift for education and truly loved the kids she worked with. I miss her, and I wish I could find her and tell her I became a writer. I'd like to thank her for her valuable lessons.

The one I remember the most is the meaning of an 'idiolect'. I'm one of the few people I know that often contemplates what it means, so indulge me as I tell you...

An idiolect is the manner of which an individual speaks to the people in his or her life. You don't walk up to your priest and say "Duuuuude! How's it hanging?" Just like you don't saunter up to a chick in the bar and say, "By all intents and purposes, I believe you might possibly be the most divine woman I have ever gazed upon." But I'd be curious to see if that worked.

ANYWAY she used to teach little memory tricks to help us recall answers. For an idiolect, that meant FEAR HERO. It stands for Family, Ethic group, Age, Religion, Hobbies, Environment, Region (?), Occupation. Hey---It's been over 20 years. But you get my meaning, right? If you're a writer at a convention, you've probably notice we all start speaking using larger, more descriptive words.

So I thought, 'There's got to be an easier way to teach people the difference between commonly misspelled two, too, and to. And there versus their. LOTS of people have misunderstandings of these words. It's not at all uncommon.

Today, I thought I'd start with the difference between 'your' and 'you're'. One is a contraction and one demonstrates possession.

Your is the one that demonstrates possession. The simplest way I can think of to understand this one, is that its spelled with Our in the middle. If it isn't mine, or ours, it must be yours.

You're is a contraction for you are. As in "You are in my spot." (I love Sheldon Cooper) It becomes "You're in my spot."

A quick thing to think about when you're writing--Whenever in doubt, interchange them. Does it make sense?

If you've written "Your in big trouble." and you read it again as, 'Our in big trouble." and again as "You are in big trouble." which one is correct? Simple, right?

I hope you found this helpful. I'll be writing other blogs later about the 'theres' and the 'twos' and I hope they're helpful as well <3


  1. When I was in grade 5 she was my Language Arts teache; if someone asked her "Mrs. Stickel, can I go to the bathroom?", she'd reply "Well I sure hope you can.". I have always remembered the difference between can and may.