I am going to start with the grammar mistake I see the most because I’m not very good at ignoring the elephant in the room. So, instead of ignoring it, I want to address this common mistake right off the bat. Most commonly “your” is used when “you’re” needs to be used. Once in a while, though, I see the reverse. Let’s start by breaking them down.
Your: possessive pronoun. Belonging to you.
A few examples of using “your” are:
- Followed by a noun (person, place, or thing). “This is your hat.”
- Followed by an adjective that is describing a noun. “This is your red hat.”
- Followed by a verb ending in “ing.” “I am trying to concentrate, but your talking is distracting.”
- Followed by an adverb that is describing a verb ending in “ing.” “I am trying to concentrate, but your loud talking is distracting.”
In all cases you own the object or action and whether there is a descriptive word or not, there will definitely be an object or action that is possessed by you.
You’re: contraction of you are.
A few examples of using “you’re” are:
- You’re a great friend.
- I really think you’re generous!
“You’re” can precede both nouns and adjectives. If it precedes a noun or an adjective describing a noun it should also have an article like “the,” “a,” or “an.” It can also precede an adjective by itself since it is, after all, describing you. Some confusion comes in because “you’re” CAN also precede a verb ending in “ing.”
Tips to prevent getting them confused:
When it doubt, replace the word with “you are.”
If the meaning of the sentence is correct with “you are,” the correct option to use is “you’re.” Let’s look at an example:
“Don’t forget sunblock if your going to the beach.”
Ouch. I didn’t even like to type that. This is an example where the general rules I explained wouldn’t help because it’s a verb ending in “ing,” so either could be an option. So, let us look at “your” in this case, though, and see if saying “you are” makes sense.
“Don’t forget sunblock if you are going to the beach.”
It does! That means “you’re” is the appropriate choice for this sentence instead of “your.” When in doubt, ALWAYS use the “you are” check because it can give you the answer 100% of the time. I will share other general tips, but I stress this is a guaranteed way to make sure you are using the correct option.
If the next word you will be using is an article (a, an, or the) the correct option is “you’re.”
If you are writing a sentence and have written “your” followed by an article (a, an, or the) I suggest going back and changing it to “you’re.” “Your” is a possessive pronoun and will be followed directly by the object or action possessed or the word that describes it but NEVER an article.
If there is no article (a, an, or the) before a noun the correct option is “your.”
“You’re” can definitely be followed directly by adjectives and verbs ending in “ing,” but when followed by a noun it must have an article before the noun. This is obviously the opposite of the above rule, so you can think of it both ways. Don’t get confused by thinking “you’re” HAS to have an article immediately after it, though, because it doesn’t! It only has to have an article before a noun. If this is too confusing to remember, I recommend using one of the other tips to help keep them straight.
I hope you have found these tips helpful! If anybody else has tips to share on how they differentiate between “your” and “you’re” please share! Please, though, DON’T ignore the elephant in the room. It may not seem like a big deal, but as you can see, they are VERY different. It IS important to use them correctly whether you are a writer, blogger, business owner, or are teaching your children.
Stay tuned for my next Grammar 101 post where I will be hashing out the differences between “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” Each week I will also share a grammar resource I love! I may share two Grammar 101 posts in one week, so both posts will have the same resource that week.
*View all posts in my Grammar 101 series*
Grammar Resource of the Week
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