There are many groups of words that are commonly confused. The very final step in revising your essay is proofreading; as part of the proofreading process, make sure that you use the following word groups correctly:
- its / it’s
- there / their / they’re
- your / you’re
- affect / effect
Its without the apostrophe shows possession. It means “belonging to it.” E.g., Its name is really Albuquerque, which is an unusual name for a dog.
It’s with the apostrophe means “it is.” E.g., It’s an indication of Maureen’s own personality that she gives her dogs unusual names.
If you don’t know which form to use, put the phrase “it is” into your sentence. If it makes sense, then you want to use it’s.
There indicates a location. E.g., Please move the McMasters’ possessions over there.
Their indicates possession. It means “belonging to them.” E.g., Because the McMasters are in the witness protection program, their names change as often as their locations.
They’re is a contraction of “they are.” E.g., Because the McMasters are in the witness protection program, their names change as often as their locations, and they’re really tired of having to learn new backstories when they move from here to there.
This video included a mini-quiz: “They plan ___ trips to avoid rush hour traffic.” Did you choose the correct word to fill in the blank?
Your indicates possession. It means “belonging to you.” E.g., Some people believe that your name influences how others interact with you.
You’re is a contraction of “you are.” E.g., Even though some people believe that your name influences how others interact with you, you’re more likely to influence interpersonal interaction through your own personality and outlook on life.
Affect / Effect
Affect is usually a verb, meaning to cause something. For example:
The string of ten rainy days in a row affected Kim’s usually friendly disposition.
Equate affect with action (both words starting with “A”) to remember that affect is usually a verb.
On the other hand, effect is a noun, the result of the action. For example:
We plugged two more lamps in the living room in order to get a better effect from Kim.
Equate effect with end result (both start with an “E”) to remember that effect is usually a noun.