Malfoy : “But this is servant stuff, it’s not for students to do. I thought we’d be copying lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, he’d —”

Hagrid : “— tell yer that’s how it is at Hogwarts,” Hagrid growled. “Copyin’ lines! What good’s that ter anyone? Yeh’ll do summat useful or yeh’ll get out. If yeh think yer father’d rather you were expelled, then get back off ter the castle an’ pack. Go on!”

This is an extract from Harry Potter I. The bold sentences seem grammatically inappropriate.As I know yer is dialect form of your. So the first bold sentence does not make any sense. And I am in confusion about the second bold sentence. Please someone enlighten me.


Without the accent:

I will tell you how it is (how things are done) at Hogwarts

If you think your father would rather (ie prefer that) you were expelled,

  • Is rather used as verb too! Thank you. Please help me with the other one. – Paladin Dec 13 '15 at 7:49
  • 2
    An adverb = to want to do, to do willingly – mgb Dec 13 '15 at 7:55
  • The first one is actually "he would tell you that's how..." – herisson Feb 9 '16 at 15:08

None of the other answers have pointed out that the first part of Hagrid's response is completing Malfoy's sentence.

Malfoy : “.... if my father knew I was doing this, he’d ...”

Hagrid : “... tell yer that’s how it is at Hogwarts.”

Hagrid is co-opting Malfoy's statement and supplying his own ending. "If your father knew you were doing this, he would tell you that that is how it is at Hogwarts."

  1. tell yer that’s how it is at Hogwarts

It means tell you that's the way it is at Hogwarts. That's the way it is means:

"That's (just) the way it goes" and "That's (just) how it goes"; That's (just) the way it is.

That is the normal way of things; that is fate

[McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs]

  1. If yeh think yer father’d rather you were expelled

Would rather could be replaed by "wish" which leads a subjunctive mood or "desire":

(when: tr, takes a clause as object or an infinitive; when intr, often foll by for) to want or desire (something, often that which cannot be or is not the case):

[Collins Online Dictionary]


It's like Mark Twain in Huck Finn and the like. She's writing phonically to convey how he sounds.

The yer in "tell yer that’s how it is at Hogwarts" just means "you" and is just a verbal affectation that has a long colorful tradition across the English speaking world like "idear" (for idea) or sawr (for saw) etc. The "intrusive r" it's called, I think. The main purpose of that one I presume is to convey Hagrid's uncivilized manner, talking like a "country bumpkin."

"If yeh think yer father’d rather you were expelled" is more of the same. The "yeh" being a common use of "you" especially in pirate (read: uncivilized) talk. The "yer" is just phonetic "your" but she wants you to read that he is distinctly saying "uncivilised" pronunciations. She's conveying that Hagrid would never pronounce it as "Yore." He means: "If you think your father would rather it be that you were expelled (instead of doing the "servant stuff") then get back to (notice "ter" the castle is just the author showing you his "intrusive r" again) the castle...

Edit: rereading yer inquiry, and noticing the second time how assuredly yeh confirm that you "know that yer means your..." I am now more sure that yer just not realizing that it is phonic writing. "Yer" does not definitively mean "your" any more than it definitively means "you're" or "you" for that matter. In this kind of writing (again, see Mark Twain, also Uncle Remus) the point is not a written grammar, but the sound, the accent that the character has.

(P.S. Not trying to be rude with my use of "yer" et al. Just having a bit of fun and demonstrating the style.)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.