Ah, you’re vs. your, the epitome of misspelled words! Don’t worry, if you’re not sure which one to use, you are surely not alone. Plenty of people struggle with these two homophones. These words do, however, have quite separate meanings, and plenty of other people are prepared to chew you up and spit you out if you use the wrong one.
Differences In Usage: You’re vs Your
This post will compare the uses of you’re and your. I will define and contextualize each word and provide example sentences so you can see each word in action.
At the end of the article, there is a way to help you remember when to use you’re or your. Never again be the food of internet trolls!
What Does You’re Mean?
Meaning of You’re: You’re is a contraction. This means it is actually two words: you are.
You’re works the same as other English contractions. For example, “I’m” is a contraction of the words “I am.”
Just as other English contractions combine words together, you’re is a combination of the noun “you” and the verb “are.” The contraction serves the function of a combined noun and verb in your sentences.
- I think you’re > I think you are wrong.
- You’re going to love this! > You are going to love this.
- Answer the door. I know you’re in there. > Answer the door. I know you are in there.
While people mix them up in either direction, the most common error is to use your when you mean to use you’re. This has to do with our tendency to shorten everything as much as possible.
It may also stem from the fact that the texting abbreviation “ur” is used to mean both your and you’re, which may have lead to an inability to distinguish the two meanings.
Yet, despite its apostrophe, you’re does not indicate possession. It is simply a contraction of you and are.
What Does Your Mean?
Meaning of Your: Your is a second-person possessive pronoun. As the name suggests, possessive pronouns are pronouns that demonstrate ownership.
Your is second-person because it refers to the person to whom you are speaking.
- Your argument is invalid.
-as opposed to-
In the first example, you are talking to someone instead of about someone.
Your is possessive because it indicates that something belongs to someone.
-as opposed to-
In the first example, you’re not simply talking about a problem. You’re talking about someone’s problem.
Lastly, your is a pronoun because it stands in for a person’s name.
For example, if you were to ask Sally a question, you wouldn’t say,
- “Is this Sally’s pencil?”
You would say,
“Is this your pencil?”
Your stands in for the name Sally.
As you can see, your can demonstrate ownership of anything from a physical item like a pencil to something more abstract like a problem or an argument.
In all cases, those things belong to the person being addressed.
Your vs You’re: How to Remember the Difference
Now that you know the difference, how do you remember whether to use your or you’re in your writing?
You’re has an apostrophe like other contractions such as “I’m” or “can’t.” Remember that this apostrophe indicates the combination of two words: you are.
Ask yourself if your sentence would still make sense if you used “you are” instead. If so, you can use you’re, which is the contraction of “you are.”
If not, use your to indicate possession.
Recap: When to Use You’re and Your
You’re and your sound identical and look similar. Both have meanings that have to do with the person the sentence is addressing, yet despite their similarities, the difference is important and distinct.
- You’re is a contraction of you are that means the person is something.
- Your is a possessive pronoun that means something belongs to that person.