Your and You’re
Your and you’re. It’s easy to see why people get them confused – most people learn language by listening and speaking, and the two words sound exactly the same in any dialect. However, they’re two very different words, and can’t ever substitute for one another, so it’s important to learn the difference.
Your is simply the possessive form of you. It’s used to describe things that belong to you. So, you can ask “are these your glasses?” or “how do I get to your house?”
Your is an adjective, so it’s typically followed by a noun or pronoun. It works the same way as my, his, her, its, our and their. If you can replace “your” in the sentence with any of those words and have it still make sense, then you’re using it right.
You’re is a contraction of two separate words – You Are. That’s what the apostrophe is for – it indicates we’ve removed something, in this case, the space and the “a” from “are”. Just like “can’t” stands for “can not”, and won’t stands for “will not”, you’re is always interchangeable with you are.
Whenever you’re using the word you’re, you can check to make sure you’ve done it right by replacing it with “you are”. So You’re driving a car is correct – you can check it by replacing it with “You are driving a car”, and the sentence still makes sense. But You’re car is running doesn’t work – “You are car is running” doesn’t make any sense at all. That way, you know you’ve used the wrong “you’re”.
That second test – replacing the word with “you are” is 100 percent accurate in all cases, and will never lead you astray. Replace your word with “you are”, and see if the sentence makes sense. If it does, use “you are”; if not, use “your”.
Of course, in formal writing, you often want to avoid contractions all together. Many teachers and professors frown upon it, so you can avoid the entire mess by avoiding “you’re” all together. In emails, blog posts, or writing to friends, however, you do use contractions, and ensuring you use the right “your” can help you avoid a potentially embarrassing result.
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