I’ve been playing a lot of IGMC entries lately and I’ve noticed quite a few that take some liberties with the English language. Some of these might be from people who don’t normally speak English but had to use it to follow the contest’s guidelines. But then again, there are plenty of people from English-speaking countries who make just as many mistakes. So consider this your quick primer on the linguistic mistakes I see the most often in amateur games. I hope it’s helpful.
There, their, they’re
They all sound the same, but mean totally different things. “There” is a place. “Their” is used to indicate possession by multiple people. “They’re” is an abbreviation for “they are.” Let’s put them all into action.
They’re very happy with their food from that restaurant over there.
Your and You’re
I see this all the time and not just in games. For whatever reason, this one is hard for people to keep straight. Here’s the deal – “your” means it belongs to you, i.e. “I’m playing your game.” “You’re” is an abbreviation for “you are,” i.e. “You’re making a game.” Let’s use them both at once.
You’re going to like what I have to say about your game.
It’s and Its
This one’s tricky because proper nouns use apostrophes to indicate possession, i.e. “Rob’s job is to write blog entries.” However, with “its,” it’s the opposite (see what I did there?). The one with the apostrophe is actually an abbreviation for “It is.” However, when you want to say something belongs to it, you actually don’t use an apostrophe when you add the “s.” Let’s use both in a sentence.
Now that I am done with the game, it’s time to talk about its strengths and flaws.
If you happen to be talking about It, from the Stephen King novel, you have to use the apostrophe since It is a proper noun is this case. “It’s favorite form is a clown.” The more you know.
To and Too
Most people know that “two” is a number, but these other two words trip up a lot of people. “Too” means “also,” as in “I’m coming along too!” while “to” has, ahem, two meanings. You can say it as the infinitive form of a verb, such as “I am going to play games” or as a synonym for “towards,” such as “I am going to the store.” Check it:
You’re going to PAX too? Let’s get ready to see some games!
Affect and Effect
I don’t blame anyone for being confused by this, why do the words have to be so similar? So here’s the deal – “affect” is a verb. “Playing over 70 games will affect your free time.” “Effect” is a noun. “One effect of IGMC judging is sleep deprivation.”
Words that look the same as singular or plural
Most of the time, we turn a word into plural form by adding “s,” such as “games” instead of “game.” Other times, the plural form of a word has a vowel at the end of it, something left over from ancient Latin. Examples include “cacti” as the plural for “cactus” or “alumni” as the plural of “alumnus.” Or maybe it’s a different word altogether, like “mice” as the plural of “mouse.” But with English being the wacky language that it is, we also have words that look exactly the same regardless of the number you’re describing. A few examples.
- Deer is the plural of Deer, there’s no such word as “deers.”
- Same with moose, there is no “mooses.”
- The plural of “scum” is just “scum.” I see “scums” used in games a lot, but that’s not a word.
Bias and Biased
This one is popular on both social media and games. Bias is a pretty common issue that comes up in journalism…and a common accusation from people losing arguments. However, the word is spelled differently depending on its use. The noun “bias” is something a person has, i.e. “Rob has a bias about The Land Before Time because it was one of his favorite movies as a kid.” But when you’re using it as a way to describe the person, it’s “biased,” i.e. “Rob is biased about The Land Before Time.” There is no scenario where it is correct to say “You’re bias” although “your bias” is accurate (see above).
Populace and Populous
“Populace” is a noun that refers to the general public. “Sega unleashed another terrible Sonic game on the populace.” “Populous” is an adjective that means “full of people.” “Gamestop was populous as customers lined up to return the latest Sonic game.” Sorry, Sonic.
In other words, it’s a bad idea to say, “You’re bias against the populous.”
I feel your pain. Apostrophes are a major nuisance. Let’s go over their different functions.
- They are used in contractions that abbreviate multiple words, such as “don’t” instead of “do not.” Other examples can be found above.
- They indicate possession by one person, i.e. “Rob’s game.”
- They can also refer to something owned by multiple people, but here it goes at the end of the word. An example is “Stay out of the girls’ room, Josh Duggar.” (Too soon?)
What also might be helpful is a couple examples of what NOT to do.
- Apostrophes are never used to make a word plural. “The horse’s need food” is not correct.
- They also don’t belong with numbers. “My favorite games are from the 1980’s” is wrong (the grammar, not the opinion…although some may disagree).
So is that helpful? Did I miss any? Let me know and I’ll write a sequel!