Yesterday, my boss sent an email containing the famous Forrest Gump line, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” The problem is she typed “your” instead of “you’re.” This immediately made me cringe. My boss has a Master’s degree. Shouldn’t she know better? She sent the email from her phone, so perhaps the text settings defaulted to “your,” but, still…come on. This is cringe-worthy.
What do you think? In an age of relying on auto-correct, should we forgive errors like this? In this case, of course, auto-correct failed. I’ve heard arguments for eradicating the “your/you’re” distinction as language evolves and grammatical rules change. I’m not likely to adapt to this suggestion as I believe a word with one meeting (a pronoun indicating possession) cannot replace another (a contraction of “you are”). If we subscribe to this model of language evolution, then we might as well start using “thru” instead of “through” and “nite” instead of “night.” That practice is different from using one correctly spelled word instead of another, but my point is rules of grammar exist for at least some reasons (some rules are questionable; don’t get me wrong), and in the case of “your” vs. “you’re” the rule needs to survive.
I’m not so rigid as to practice, say, Edwardian English, or avoid slang, or be a complete grammar snob. Since moving to California, I’ve become supremely guilty of word-shortening in everyday speech (i.e. “sitch” for situation, “deets” for details, etc.). I know this slang is obnoxious, but I try to retain a modicum of articulation through my writing. After all, writing is the medium through which we can best communicate. It’s not as impulsive. It’s crafted under the luxury of time and editing. Spoken word is emotional and intractable. At the same time, it may be more clearly understood than written word if such glaring errors as “try not to loose your keys while your jogging” exist on paper. Omission or addition of only a few letters can change meaning entirely.