In today’s blog post I’m going to share a few editing tips regarding common mistakes linked to pronouns and possession. Perhaps these will seem obvious to some of you; however, you’d be surprised how many times I see them confused in fiction manuscripts.
Their = belonging to them
E.g. They opened their books.
There = a place/destination
E.g. Put the books over there.
They're = they are
E.g. They're eager to start reading the book
Your vs. You're
Your is possessive.
E.g. Your button is undone.
You're is a contraction of 'you are'.
E.g. You're always pointing out my faults.
Me vs. I
Lots of people have their own way of thinking about this. For me, it comes down to what makes sense without the 'you'. If deciding between 'you and me' or 'you and I', say the sentence aloud just with the 'me' or 'I' to see which makes sense.
E.g. You and me both like books.
Take a look without the 'you' and you'll have 'Me (both) like books'. Clearly this makes no sense; therefore, the sentence should be:
You and I both like books.
Who vs. Whom
This is another one that relies on verb form, but there is a quick way to decide which it should be.
The man who he loved.
Reverse the sentence and see which fits best: 'He loved he' or 'He loved him'. We can tell at once it should be him; therefore, the correct wording of the sentence would be:
The man whom he loved.
If you'd say 'him' rather than 'he' (or 'her'/'them' rather than 'she'/'they') then you know it will be whom.