You’re vs. Your: Know the difference so you don’t fall victim to incorrect usage of these two words.

It’s a problem that’s plagued writers for ages. No, not how to attract the attention of a decent agent; that’s another problem altogether. This problem is how to determine whether you need to use “your” or “you’re” in a sentence. Read on to learn how – and when – to use “you’re” and “your” properly in written communications.

How many times have you seen the words, “Your Invited…” emblazoned across hand-printed or inexpensively produced party invitations? Does it make you want to scream and tear out clumps of your hair? No? Okay, well maybe I’m the only one… but I seriously doubt that. What further confuses matters is when the event is a pool party and the host goes on to exhort guests, “Bring you’re bathing suits!”

The solution is really pretty basic. It all comes down to whether you mean to say “something that belongs to you” or “you are.” The trouble is, many people either don’t care enough to take the time to think it through; or they’re so set in their ways, they chronically use the wrong word.

To know when to use the word “your,” you must first realize that this is a possessive pronoun; you use it correctly when referring to something that belongs to someone: “your socks,” “your sister,” “your failing grades in French class.” That kind of thing.

If you can turn the phrase around to say, “the socks that belong to you,” “the sister of you” (which, arguably, does sound kind of goofy – but is, nevertheless, correct) or “the failing grades in French class that you have been getting,” then you would use “your.”

On the other hand, the contraction “you’re” takes the place of the subject-verb combination “you are.” You would use it when addressing someone directly. “You’re not tromping across my nice clean kitchen floor in those muddy boots, are you?” Or, “You’re an inspiration to us all!” Or even, “You’re not going to believe this…”

If you can replace the word in question with the words “you are” – “You are not tromping across my nice clean kitchen in those muddy boots, are you?” Or, “You are an inspiration to us all!” Or even, “You are not going to believe this…” – then the proper word to use is “you’re.”

That’s it. It’s no more complex than taking a moment to figure out what the intent of the sentence is.

Now that you know when to use “your” and when to use “you’re,” I bet you’re going to use these two words correctly in all your writing from now on… right?

2 Responses to You’re vs. Your: Know the difference so you don’t fall victim to incorrect usage of these two words.

  1. whatisthepointof says:

    I hate it when people do this. Even worse, however, is the they’re/there/their conundrum that for some unknown reason people seems to have such difficulty with. I honestly don’t understand why it is so hard.

    • persnicketyproofreader says:

      Hi WITPO [I hope you don’t mind me calling you that :)]

      Nice to know I’m not alone in this. Your comment on the “they’re/there/their conundrum” prompted me to address that issue here.

      I can’t comprehend the difficulty, either… but, then again, I used to devour grammar and punctuation lessons when I was a kid. Maybe that’s why I got beat up on the playground so much: I was a nerd even back then. Who knew it would be cool one day?!

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