You're or Your?

by Craig Shrives

You're or Your?

What is the difference between "you're" and "your"?
  • "You're" is short for "you are."
  • "Your" shows that something belongs to "you" or is related to "you" (e.g., your car, your father).
you're or your?
It's a Howler!


A mistake involving "you're" and "your" is a howler.

See our list of writing mistakes ordered by their seriousness.

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between "Your" and "You're."

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game)

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More about "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.

Examples:
  • 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)
  • (Expands to "you are" – correct)
  • Please ask Joan to post the parcel when you're in London.
  • (Expands to "you are" – 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.")

More about "Your"

In grammar, "your" is a possessive determiner. (Other possessive determiners are "my," "your," "his," "her," "its," "our," and "their.") The word "your" sits before another word (usually a noun or a pronoun) to show:

It belongs to "you." For example:
  • your car, your arm, your dog
It is of "you." For example:
  • your picture, your photograph, your portrait
It is related to "you.". For example:
  • your uncle, your mother, your sibling
More examples:
  • 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 your 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 absolute possessives. This is another 100% rule.

Remember One of These Examples

Here are two witty examples with "your" and "you're" used correctly 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)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

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