I get an email:
Subject: I’m writing an essay on marijuana.
Text: I need you background to say your not a nut. Please reply. Thank you.
Probably not the best approach, Phillip, when asking a professional for information, but fortunately, I’m a laid-back kind of guy and don’t mind the potential “nut” reference.
However, I’m also a teacher, and I’m afraid I can’t let your spelling and grammar go uncorrected. I’m hoping you’ll do much better in your paper about marijuana. We’ve developed a bit of a reputation in recent years of being the smart ones out there, and if you go and spoil it for the rest of us by looking like you were too stoned to pay attention in English class, then us nuts are going to be quite unhappy and come after you.
“I need you background…”
OK. “I need you” is what you tell your girlfriend (I need you, Suzie), not what you tell a background. I’m going to assume you mean that you need my background. In that case you should say “I need your background.” “Your” is the possessive form of the pronoun “you” (“my blog,” “your paper”).
“… to say your not a nut.”
Remember our previous lesson? “Your” is the possessive form of “you.” This seems to imply that I possess a “not,” but I don’t think that’s what you had in mind. You probably mean “… to say you are not a nut” and then intended on shortening the “you are.” You can do that. But when you shorten “you are” it ends up as “you’re” (with the apostrophe taking the place of the missing space and “a”).
Thus the entire sentence should read:
“I need your background to say you’re not a nut.”
It’s a bit spare and could use some amplification (such as “I would like to get some details of your background to add as bibliography when I cite your writing, so I can show you are a qualified resource and not just a nut.”). However, that’s not really essential, and your revised statement (perhaps with the addition of “in order to”) would do a better job of passing minimal grammatical scrutiny.
“Please reply. Thank you.”
Again, a bit brusque, but at least it had the very nice “Thank you.” (which is why I’m providing what you ask).
At the top of every page of DrugWarRant.com, near the left, you’ll see links for “Home,” “About,” and “Articles”. If you click on the “About” link, you’ll find out things about the site and about me. If you’re ambitious enough to continue to follow links from there, you’ll also get to my regular work resume.
Good luck with the paper.