You're or Your?

by Craig Shrives

The Difference between "You're" and "Your"

"You're" and "your" are easy to confuse because they sound identical.
  • You're. "You're" is short for "you are." For example:
    • You're rich now!
    • Does she think you're happy?
  • Your. "Your" is to show something belongs to "you" or is related to "you." For example:
    • Your answer is correct.
    • ("Answer" belongs to you.)
    • Your uncle has a Roman nose.
    • ("Uncle" is related to you.)
you're or your?

It's a serious mistake!

Mistakes involving "you're" and "your" will damage your reputation as a writer.

Ready for the Test?

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between "you're" and "your":

You're

"You're" is a contraction of "you are." It has no other uses. This is a 100% rule. If you cannot expand it to "you are" in your sentence, then it is wrong.

Example sentences with "you're":
  • The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. (Actress Lily Tomlin)
  • (This expands to "you are," so it is correct.)
  • Doing nothing is very hard to do. You never know when you're finished. (Actor Leslie Nielsen)
  • (This expands to "you are," so it is correct.)
  • Please ask Joan to post the parcel when you're in London.
  • (This expands to "you are," so it is correct.)
  • You said that you couldn't believe you're ears.
  • (This does not expand to "you are," so it is wrong. It should be "your.")

Your

"Your" is a possessive determiner. (Other possessive determiners are "my," "your," "his," "her," "its," "our," and "their.")

"Your" is used before a word one of three reasons:

(1) To show it belongs to "you."

For example:
  • your car, your arm, your dog
(2) To show it is of "you."

For example:
  • your picture, your photograph, your portrait
(3) To show it is related to "you."

For example:
  • your uncle, your mother, your sibling
Here are some more example sentences with "your":
  • Our expert will answer your questions about pensions and savings.
  • (This means the questions belonging to "you.")
  • Pin your photograph to the top of the application.
  • (This means the photograph of "you.")
  • Sarah doesn't look like your sister.
  • (This means related to "you.")

Avoid "You're" in Formal Writing

As a general rule, contractions (e.g., "you're," "isn't," "can't," "don't," "it's") are not used in formal writing. In official correspondence, the normal practice is to expand them to their full forms. If you always expand contractions, you will never make a mistake with "you're" or "it's" (two notorious grammar villains).

Yours Not Your's

The word "yours" is known as an possessive pronoun (others are "ours," "his," and "hers"). There are no apostrophes in any possessive pronouns. This is another 100% rule.

Remember One of These Examples

Here are two witty examples with "your" and "you're" to help you remember how to use them:
  • You're only as good as your last haircut. (Author Fran Lebowitz)
  • When you're eight years old nothing is your business. (Comedian Lenny Bruce)
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See Also

See our list of writing mistakes ordered by their seriousness. adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? What are pronouns? What are absolute possessives? What possessive adjectives? List of easily confused words

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