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Language Arts

Your vs. You're



Explore when to use your or you're. This article explains the differences of you're vs. your and the uses of each. Compare the definition and proper grammar of you're versus your. Learn how to use your and you're.

Your vs. You’re

You’re telling me that your spelling is perfect?! English spelling can be very tricky and the words you’re and your are two of the most often confused, by both native speakers and people who have learned English as a second (or third!) language.

The first sentence above demonstrates a correct use of your and you’re. Your and you’re are easily confused words. Let’s define each of them.

Your

Your is one of the two possessive forms of both the singular and plural second-person pronoun, you. Your is the possessive adjective, while yours is the possessive pronoun. The other possessive adjectives are my, our, his, her, its, and their.

The second person pronoun in English, unlike some other languages that have a formal and informal version has only one form in English. Here is an example of how it is used.

As the sole adjective modifying a noun:

Yes, I would like to see your patio.

Your car is quite an interesting shade of magenta: did you special order it?

As one of multiple modifiers in a noun phrase:

Your homemade pizza is the best I’ve ever tasted.

Your gross incompetence is exceeded only by your terrible manners.

Notice that the second person possessive adjective does not require an antecedent because it is used in direct address. This means the person or people being spoken to are the ones being referred to, so no antecedent within the words is necessary. It is possible that the person or people will be named, but not required. Here are two examples:

Kit and Kevin, let me introduce your new neighbor, Charles Davis.

In this sentence, your refers back to Kit and Kevin.

I heard Joss scolding his new sheepdog yesterday. He said, “Your gross incompetence is exceeded only by your terrible manners.”

In this case,  your refers to his new sheepdog.

The other possessive adjectives are: my, our, your, his, her, and their.


You’re

You’re, on the other hand, is the contracted form of the second person singular and plural subject pronoun you combined with the verb are. Contractions are made by leaving out one or more letters and substituting an apostrophe. In the case of you’re, we have:

you (pronoun) + are (verb) = you’re

Notice that the a is missing from the contraction and that the apostrophe is indicating the spot from which the a has been removed.

As with other forms of the second person pronoun, the singular and plural are the same and there is no distinction between formal and informal usage. So you can say.

Singular:

Dori, you’re the best goldfish a guy could ever have!

Plural:

Sylvester and Felicia•you’re in charge of field ops.

Informal:

You’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Formal:

You’re welcome to come to tea, if you like, Your Excellency.

Why Mistakes Happen

Substituting of your or you’re for the other word happens because the words sound the same, are spelled very similarly, and have related meanings. Also, because they are pronouns, rather than the “more important” nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, we pay less attention to them when we are proofreading. Because both spellings are accurate, spellcheck alone will not catch them: you have to use, for example, Microsoft Word’s grammar check, to be able to find the wrong form of your/you’re.

Written by Mary Elizabeth