For the record: There is no such word as its'.
"They're" vs. "Their" vs. "There"
This is similar to the "It's" vs. "Its" situation. "They're" is a contraction of the words "They" and "are". If you can substitute "They are", then you can use "They're".
Example: "Look at the children. They're on the way to school." Replace "they're" with "They are", the sentence still makes sense.
"Their" is a possessive pronoun and indicates possession of something. Is it the plural version of "his" or "hers".
Example: "Most kids eat their french fries with lots of ketchup." In this case, "their" indicates that the fries belong to the kids.
"There" usually indicates a location.
Example: "Look over there. There is a free parking space."
"You're" vs. "Your"
This is also similar to the "It's" vs. "Its" situation. "You're" is a contraction of the words "You" and "are". If you can substitute "You are", then you can use "You're".
Example: "You're on the way to the mall." Replace "You're" with "You are", the sentence still makes sense.
"Your" is a possessive pronoun and indicates possession of something.
Example: "This is your sandwich." In this case, "your" indicates that the sandwich belong to you.
A common misspelling is "Your welcome." The correct spelling is "You're welcome."
"Then" vs. "Than"
"Then" is used to indicate a time line, puttings things in a certain order.
Example: "First I put on my seat belt, then i start the car's engine."
"Than" is used to compare two things.
Example: In the summer it is warmer than in the winter.
"Loose" vs. "Lose"
Another common point of confusion. "Loose" is an adjective that describes the state of something.
Example: "The bracket is not mounted securely. It is loose."
"Lose" is the verb that describes the process of something being misplaced, a game not won, etc.
Example: "They will lose the game." or "If you lose your keys, you won't be able to open the door."
"Know" vs. "Now"
While pronounced differently, these two are often mixed up when written. "Now" describes the present point in time.
Example: "We have to leave now in order to make the train."
"Know" is the verb that describes having knowledge or understanding of something.
Example: "I know how to fix this problem."
"Affect" vs. "Effect"
This is another favorite. "Affect" is usually used as a verb that means to produce an influence on something, to cause something else to be impacted.
Example: "If the flight is canceled, it will seriously affect my travel schedule."
"Effect" on the other hand is a noun that describes a result of some action, the way something acts upon another.
Example: "The flight being canceled had the effect that I missed my meeting in New York."
Yes, there are other meanings for these words, but these are the most commonly used and misspelled ones.
"Accept" vs. "Except"
Two different spellings, but almost identical pronunciation make these two words hard to differentiate. "Accept" is a verb that means to receive something willingly, to agree with something, to put up with something.
Example: "He went up to the podium and accepted his award."
"Except" describes something that does not follow a pattern, an alternate condition.
Example: "The store is open all week except for Sunday afternoon."
"Moot" vs. "Mute"
"Moot" means obsolete, irrelevant, something that doesn't apply anymore.
Example: "Since Joe was laid off, evaluating his performance is a moot point."
"Mute" means silent, without sound.
Example: "The TV is mute because the volume is turned to 0."
"To" vs. "Two" vs. "Too"
"To" is a preposition with many uses, such as indicating movement, purpose, addition, relation, etc.
Example: "He drove to the beach." - "He likes to eat." - "The sequel sucked compared to the first movie."
"Two" is how you spell the number 2.
Example: "Most people have two ears."
"Too" means also, as well.
Example: "I want to go to the movies, too!"
"Assure" vs. "Ensure" vs. "Insure"
"Assure" is a verb and means to convince somebody that something is true.
Example: "The clerk assured her that it was the correct price."
"Ensure" means to make certain, to verify.
Example: "Before you jump out of that plane, please ensure that your parachute is in working condition."
"Insure" means to purchase or provide insurance on an item to be covered in case of its loss.
Example: "Please insure the package when you mail it at the post office."
"Receive" vs. "Recieve"
A popular typo. The correct spelling is "Receive".
"Weird" vs. "Wierd"
Another popular typo. The correct spelling is "Weird".
This article only represents a sample collection of things that could be improved in online communication. There are probably countless additional things that could be added to this list. If you have other suggestions, feel free to let us know.
While this article has no illusions of changing online communication to the better over night, hopefully you have learned something from it, found an explanation, cleared up a misunderstanding, or in some other small way
derived a benefit from it