Tricky Rules

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There’s/Theirs/Their’s

Theirs is a possessive pronoun. There’s is a contraction for there is or, rarely, there has. Note the apostrophe replacing the missing letter or letters. Their’s does not exist. Examples: That painting is theirs. (possessive pronoun) There’s more to this than meets the eye. (contraction of there is)

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Who/Which/That

That, which, and who when used as relative pronouns each has a distinct function. In modern speech, which refers only to things. Who (or its forms whom and whose) refers only to people. That normally refers to things but it may refer to a class or type of person. Examples: That is a book which

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To/Too/Two

To is a preposition which begins a prepositional phrase or an infinitive. Too is an adverb meaning “excessively” or “also.” Two is a number. Many other words in English which reflect the number two are spelled with tw: twin, twice, between, tweezers, etc. Examples: We went to a baseball game. (preposition) We like to watch

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Who/Whom

Pronouns are words that Americans often carelessly use in their speech. The problem is that the use of pronouns must be very clear when we write. Many times the writing will be misunderstood; at best, the writer will appear uneducated. A major problem with pronouns is the use of the wrong case. In English certain

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Tortuous/Torturous/Tortured

Tortuous means “winding, crooked” or “tricky to handle.” Torturous means “causing torture” or “painful in a cruel way.” Tortured as an adjective means “receiving torture” or “pained.” Examples: He had to take a tortuous route through the Alps. He survived the torturous existence of the concentration camp. The beggar gave a tortured look to the

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