Word Confusion: ‘Em, ‘Er, ‘Im…

Posted April 18, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I tend to find that the problems most authors have with these colloquialisms is punctuation and definition. Hard to believe two itty-bitty letters can have such impact.

Any time you remove letters from a word, it is considered a contraction and those letters must be replaced with an apostrophe. And just because you have removed letters doesn’t change what that contraction means!

‘EM will always be them. Unless, of course, it’s short for Emily! In which case, skip the apostrophe as it’s no longer a contraction but a nickname.

‘ER will always be her. Well, unless you’re human and you’ve made a mistake, er, I mean, not that you would or anything… And you can leave off that apostrophe again, since er is its own word.

As for ‘IM, ‘e’ll always be him. Okay, okay, unless you’re doing that there IM thing. Which, again, is its own acronym and doesn’t use the apostrophe. Are you sensing a theme yet…?

So, other than that, there are no exceptions, er, well, you may want to check out two other posts involving -er: “Air vs Err vs Heir” and “E’er vs Ere vs Err“.

So on that note, let’s just get’er done…!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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’em ‘er ‘im
Part of Grammar:
Pronoun, third person plural Pronoun, third person singular referring to a female Pronoun, third person singular referring to a male
A colloquial contraction for them A colloquial contraction for her A colloquial contraction for him
Up and at ’em
Translates as: Up and at them

I can take ’em on
Translates as: I can take them on.

Get ’em
Translates as: Get them

What’s wrong with ‘er?
Translates as: What’s wrong with her?
Go get ‘im
Translates as: Go get him

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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