TITLE: Goldie Lawks and the Three Theres (or is it They'res? or Theirs?) 1/22/16
By Joanne Sher
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Goldie Lawks and the Three Theres (or is it They'res? Or Theirs?)
In the classroom of Miss Goldie Lawks
The children rarely stammer.
She emphasizes fluent speech
and using perfect grammar.
Her kids won't split infinitives
or write a run-on sentence.
For if they do, they know it's true
Their hands will beg repentance.
Each time Miss Lawks finds something wrong
in her pupils' script or speech
Each kid redoes it thirty times -
until perfection's reached.
Even when the school day's done,
Her work is not complete.
She'll often use her Sharpie to
fix spelling on the street.
The hardest for the kids to learn
by far from year to year
are homonyms – words spelled more ways
than you think if you just hear.
Young John and Sally always wrote
a “your” when they meant “you're.”
And Alexis, student of the week,
oft mixed up “or” and “ore.”
But the bane of Lawks' existence
(her students' too, I'd swear)
are those confusing common words
named “they're” and “their” and “there.”
While one is a contraction,
one possessive, adverb another.
Her students (and their parents)
oft mistake them for each other
“If 'they are' is what you're saying,”
Lawks instructs the class with caution,
“Use one with an apostrophe,
and skip the other options.”
But if something belongs to them,
the proper word is “their.”
(She hopes her students catch on 'fore
she loses her last hair.)
But when it comes to placing “there,”
most common of the lot,
it's used in many situations,
far more than you'd have thought.
It's used to differentiate
between what's near and far.
If it isn't here, it could be there,
upon a distant star.
There also often indicates
that something does exist.
There is a book; there are my socks.
They all are on my list.
But when we must fill in the blank
and do it all correctly,
we need to know each definition
and answer it directly.
“She wants to borrow ___ (blank)TV”
was the question from Miss Lawks.
She worked each option through with them,
'til the right one's in the box.
Cuz “they're” is short for they plus are,
that answer is too long.
But “there” is not the proper fit -
the meaning is all wrong!
But since the TV's owned my them,
the answer is possessive.
So “their,” which means “belongs to them,”
is right – don't be obsessive.
So thanks to dear Miss Lawks, her class
can finally say proudly
they know the proper use of words
they once complained of loudly.
But still Miss Lawks' job's not done,
They're sure their school's need's dear.
There are at least two dozen kids
she'll need to teach next year!
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