Common English Errors: Your and You're (updated) Featured

It’s quite common for your and you're to be confused. The way to remember which is which is quite easy – just remember that an apostrophe almost always shows where some letters have been left out (the technical term for this is elision or contraction but you don’t need to worry about that).

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In this case, you're is an abbreviated way of saying or writing you are. The words are squished together, and the a drops off. The place where the a used to be is shown with the apostrophe, giving us you're. The apostrophe in you're does NOT indicate possession.

Your, on the other hand, is a possessive adjective. This means that the word indicates ownership (possessing, having, or owning something), as in This is your cake, not mine. The cake belongs to you, not me (but if you're generous, maybe you’ll share?).

To decide which spelling to use when you’re writing, say the sentence aloud, and see if “you are” fits the meaning. If it does, then you can use you're. If “you are” doesn’t make sense in the sentence, then you probably need your.

An example to show you what I mean: I’d love to come to your party (and have some of your cake). Imagine saying this sentence as I’d love to come to “you are” party (and have some of “you are” cake). You can see right away that it makes no sense, so your is the spelling you want to use.

Another example: You’re so very kind. Again, imagine the “your” sounding words expanded to “you are” — “You are” so very kind. You can see right away that the sentence makes sense, so you're (a contraction of you are) is the correct spelling to use.


To see if you understand the difference between you're and your, choose the right version of you're/your below:

1. You're/Your fired!
2. I left my camera in you're/your car
3. Who is you're/your best friend?
4. You're/Your mum called to say you're/your in big trouble!
5. You're/Your very wise if you download Ultimate Vocabulary to improve you're/your vocabulary!

1. You're; 2. your; 3. your; 4(a) Your, 4(b) you're; 5(a) You're, 5(b) your

*We have agreed to receive a commission from some sales of Ultimate Vocabulary because we are happy to endorse this award-winning vocabulary-improvement software.







Last modified on Friday, 08 January 2016 09:27
English Language Skills (Denise)

English Language Skills (Denise)

I'm a syndicated puzzle writer, with 8 puzzle books to my name, including Word Searches for Dummies and Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (with Mark Koltko-Rivera). I have a background in science and graphic design, and am a trained indexer. My favourite puzzles are cryptic crosswords. and my favourite books are murder mysteries and cookbooks. I am also a very keen knitter.

I write a blog all about puzzles, called Puzzling.

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