Write Right: Your versus You’re

Write RightThe difference between “your” and “you’re” seems fairly self-evident, but they often are mistaken for each other. “Mistaken” may not be the correct word. I think the two words are misused because of auto-correct and a neglect to proofread one’s work prior to hitting send, publish, or share.

“Your” is the possessive form of “you.” It should be used when something belongs to “you” and not to someone else: “Your dog dug a hole under the fence and is terrorizing my cat. Please take care of your dog.” It should be used in order to alert a person of some danger: “Your basement is flooding.” It might be used to express a self-centered concern: “Your cookies are burning.” All those things belong to the “you.” The “you” is the owner of the dog, the flooded basement, and the burnt cookies.

“You’re” is the contraction of “you are.” It’s easy to use. A parent might use the contraction when speaking to the child who is going to be late for school: “You’re going to be late if you don’t quite dawdling in the bathroom” (said to my brothers who globbed gel in their hair in hopes of imitating Sonic the Hedgehog’s spikes). It might be said to the person responsible for washing the dishes: “You’re going to do the dishes, right?” I don’t recommend asking the question unless the last dish in the house has been used. It hints of nagging. A better turn of phrase might be to use the possessive “you”: “It’s your turn to do the dishes.” Do insert “dear” or other pet names as needed following that statement. It could make the directive slightly easier to bear.

“Your” versus “you’re.” They sound the same, but they’re very different. One is a possessive; the other is a contraction. The solution to getting the two words right? Proofread the words that have been written prior to hitting send or publish.

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  1. Given the clarity of this rule, I’m amazed how often these two are mixed up. Having a teenager in the house who texts about a billion messages day, I see this mistake often. (I should say even I get it wrong sometimes.) So it’s definitely a good reminder, Erin!

    •  @yuvizalkow I’m glad you appreciate the reminder.
      Don’t even tell me about texting lingo. I can understand how “your” and “you’re” can be confused when you use smart typing or whatever it’s called, but “ur”? Bleh. 🙂
      I’m sure I’ve used the wrong “you’re” or “your” on occasion, too.