How to know when to use you're or your in English: 7 steps

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How to know when to use you're or your in English: 7 steps
How to know when to use you're or your in English: 7 steps

Confusing "you're" with "your" (or vice versa) is a very common spelling mistake that most people have made at some time. This is a grammatical error that can be disproportionately irritating and confusing to the reader. Fortunately, once you learn to differentiate them well, you will hardly ever mix them again.


Method 1 of 1: Use you’re and your correctly

Use You're and Your Step 1
Use You're and Your Step 1

Step 1. Understand the correct use of the word you need to use

The best way to do this is by determining which one sounds best. There is a replacement test that will tell you for sure which of the two options is a better fit. Read the sentence with you are in the part where you are supposed to use you’re (you are or you are) or your (you, possessive). If it makes sense, then you’re the correct choice. If not, then you should use your. You could also replace your (tu) with my (mi) in the sentence. If it sounds good, then use your.

Use You're and Your Step 2
Use You're and Your Step 2

Step 2. Create a mnemonic to help you distinguish the words

A mnemonic is a mechanism that helps you remember something. You should find a mnemonic that you find useful to remember the difference between you’r and your. Some elements like parallelism or vivid images are generally quite effective mnemonic tools.

  • Think of the sentence "If you're writing it you're, you're writing it right", in Spanish it doesn't make much sense but if you think about it in English you will notice which is a very useful prayer). When writing, you are actually doing something said in English "you are doing something". Therefore it is correct to use the contraction "you’re", since "you’re writing" means "you are writing."
  • You could also try some other sentence, such as "Your Outraged Unicorns Race" (meaning "your outraged unicorns compete in the race"), where the first letter of each word spells the correct use of, in this case, the possessive your. Because unicorns belong to you, we are talking about "your unicorns" (your unicorns).
Use You're and Your Step 3
Use You're and Your Step 3

Step 3. Write you’re as a contraction, or as a combination of the words you and are

Other examples of contractions are: "doesn’t" for "does" and "not"; "they’re" for "they" and "are"; and "can’t" for "cannot".

  • "You're a good friend" can be written as "You are a good friend" and means "you are a good friend."
  • "I don't know what you're talking about" can be written as "I don't know what you are talking about" and it means "I don't know what you're talking about" (in this case, you're meaning you are).
Use You're and Your Step 4
Use You're and Your Step 4

Step 4. Remember that you're actually a combination of two words

Therefore, it fulfills two very important roles in the sentence or clause. Because it includes both a pronoun and a verb, you’re always the subject and at least part of the verb of any clause where it appears.

Use You're and Your Step 5
Use You're and Your Step 5

Step 5. Write your as the possessive form of the subject tú

The possessive refers to something that a person has, something that belongs to the person in question or to whom you are speaking. Your reflects property or belonging, just like yours, mine and ours (yours, mine and ours).

  • "Is your stomach growling?" ("Is your stomach roaring?")
  • "Your book is on the table"
Use You're and Your Step 6
Use You're and Your Step 6

Step 6. Remember that generally after the word your an adjective is not placed

In most cases, an adjective (which is a word that describes something) is not written after your, when that adjective is describing the person you are talking about.

In other words, saying "Your very kind" is almost never correct (you're saying something like "your very kind"!). This would only be correct if someone were describing an adjective, for example "Your nice son brought me my coat". Here, "your nice" or "your nice" is correct because "nice" is describing the person's child

Use You're and Your Step 7
Use You're and Your Step 7

Step 7. Look at some examples

Each of the following examples shows an incorrect use of "your" and "you’re" and why it is incorrect.

  • "I can't read you're handwriting" (in Spanish, it would be something like "I can't read you are handwriting"; it doesn't make any sense!)

    It is wrong because you are using the contraction for "you are" instead of the possessive "you". "I can't read you are handwriting", as explained above, does not make sense. You must replace it with your (and thus the meaning would change to "I can't read your handwriting")

  • "If your hungry, then you should probably eat something".

    It is incorrect because the question does not speak of possession. You can be hungry, but in English, hunger is not "possessed". In this sentence you can make the replacement. If you rewrite it with you are, it will make sense. Therefore you must replace your by you’re or by you are

  • "I think your very smart" ("I think your very smart"; again, this doesn't make sense)

    As in the previous case, this is not correct. The qualifier "very smart" does not belong to the person you are talking to, that is, they do not own that qualifier. Replace it with you’re or you are

  • "I'm smarter than you're" (which literally translates to "I'm smarter than you are").

    This is correct because the contraction has been used for you are instead of the possessive form of you. However, this unconventional usage can be confusing for some people, so avoid ending a sentence with "you’re" even if it is grammatically correct


  • Just remember the phrase "You're not spelling your words correctly" and everything will fit.
  • Note that never you will see the words the, a or an after your.
  • Simple grammar mistakes, such as the incorrect use of your and you’re, can negatively influence how others perceive your credibility when reading your compositions, such as essays or resumes. It would be a very good idea for you to learn how to use these words correctly.
  • There is another word, yore, which is pronounced exactly the same as you’re and your. Yore refers to distant times in the past and is not used very often in informal conversations.

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