Inexcusable Errors

The following sentences contain a number of errors which I consider to be inexcusable for high-school students to make. Every one of these errors has been made by students in 9th through 12th grades at some point in the past year:

Me and her where going downtown to see Steves mom. When we got their she said its 5:30 your late. After that i dont no were she went.

The first error is the opening subject, "Me and her." First of all, these are object pronouns; you wouldn't say "Me was going...." or "Her was going..." You need to replace these with subject pronouns; "I was going..."; "She was going...." Second, whenever there is a list of nouns or pronouns where one is first-person (me or I), that should be last. So....

She and I where going downtown to see Steves mom. When we got their she said its 5:30 your late. After that i dont no were she went.

The second error is "where," which should be "were." How high school students can still confuse "where" and "were" is beyond me. Easy way to remember: "Where? Here."

She and I were going downtown to see Steves mom. When we got their she said its 5:30 your late. After that i dont no were she went.

"Steves" means more than one Steve. It needs an apostrophe to indicate possession.

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mom. When we got their she said its 5:30 your late. After that i dont no were she went.

"Mom" and "dad" are not common nouns in a grammatical sense; they are affectations, names by which we address our parents. The appropriate common nouns are "mother and "father."

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got their she said its 5:30 your late. After that i dont no were she went.

Another inexcusable error; the mistaking of the possessive pronoun "their" (meaning, "belonging to them") for  "there," an adverb of place. Again, easy way to remember: "here, there. Where? There." The third form, "they're," is a contraction of  "they are." They all sound the same, but they're not.

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there she said its 5:30 your late. After that i dont no were she went.

We'll sum up some punctuation errors here: you need a comma after "there," after "said," and after "5:30" (which should really be written out in words). Click here for a more detailed mini-lesson on how to write and punctuate dialogue.

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there, she said, "Its five-thirty, your late." After that i dont no were she went.

"Its" is the only instance in the English language where the ABSENCE of an apostrophe indicates possession. "Its," without the apostrophe, is the possessive pronoun, "belonging to it." To form a contraction of "it is," you need the apostrophe: "it's."

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there, she said, "It's five-thirty, your late." After that i dont no were she went.

Another place where a possessive pronoun is used by mistake: "your," meaning "belonging to you," instead of "you're," a contraction of "you are." Again, they sound alike, but in writing you must distinguish them.

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there, she said, "It's five-thirty, you're late." After that i dont no were she went.

When I was in third grade, I forgot to capitalize the pronoun "I." My teacher said I should go back to second grade if I didn't know how to do that. There's no excuse for high school students to still make that error.

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there, she said, "It's five-thirty, you're late." After that I dont no were she went.

Another missing apostrophe, this one for the contraction of "do not..."

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there, she said, "It's five-thirty, you're late." After that I don't no were she went.

"No" is an interjection indicating negative response or intent. It is a homophone (sound-alike) of the verb "know," but the words are not interchangeable.

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there, she said, "It's five-thirty, you're late." After that I don't know were she went.

And again, we see "were" and "where" confused, this time the other way. You could also use a comma after "After that". Which brings us to the final, correct sentences:

She and I were going downtown to see Steve's mother. When we got there, she said, "It's five-thirty, you're late." After that, I don't know where she went.

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