Easily Confused Words: Your vs. You’re

Your and You’re are easily confused words. These two are in the top ten of most confused words on the internet, for sure!

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect also tries to anticipate what word you want based on the first few letters. But sharing letters doesn’t equate to sharing meanings.

Your is a possessive pronoun. It is used when describing things belonging to you.

You’re is a contraction of the phrase “You are.” It is used when you are talking specifically to one person, describing what that person is doing, feeling, or being.

If you are in doubt about a your/you’re situation, insert the phrase “you are” in the sentence in its place. If the sentence still works, it’s a you’re situation. If it doesn’t, it’s a your situation.

For example:

I think I saw your/you’re dog in my lawn today. I think I saw you are dog in my lawn today sounds terrible, doesn’t it? It sounds like a non-sensical fragment collided with a much larger sentence.  So this is a possessive “your” situation.

I think your/you’re looking well today.  I think “you are” looking well today. Yep, that’s sounds great. On the internet, you might see someone type “I think your looking well today.”  But your….what exactly? would well even work with what was left out?

The following story uses both words correctly:

Yuri told Yapany, “I really liked your Prezi this morning. Thank you for researching those issues for the team.”

“You’re welcome, anything for the team,” she replied.


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