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The difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’

Grammar fascists are a bore it’s true. But bad grammar makes you look foolish. That’s fine if you’re 17, but if you’re writing and publishing a blog, e-book or anything else for that matter, basic good grammar will create a much better impression.

One of the most common mistakes I see on the web is the use of ‘your’ when the writer means ‘you’re’. It’s a real howler. But I’ve seen it from people who write really well, clearly, with virtually no other grammar faults. They’re clearly well educated and smart people but they seem to have a blind spot here.

There’s obviously some confusion out there, but the difference between the two is really quite simple to grasp.

‘Your’ is possessive: my apple, your apple, their apple, our apple.

You’re is the shortened form of ‘you are’: I am blogging, you are blogging, they are blogging, we are blogging.

This becomes: I’m blogging, you’re blogging, they’re blogging, we’re blogging.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Markus November 20, 2007, 10:26 pm

    Hi Simon,

    I just discovered your blog via StumbleUpon and I really like it!

    For me as an English language blogger, although my mother tongue is German, your [was that right? ;)] site is really valuable!

    Of course I subscribed to your RSS feed!

    Best Regards!


    • Matt September 11, 2010, 1:19 pm

      One thing I noticed is that non-native speakers tend to on average have better written English than native speakers. Isn’t that ironic? If there weren’t so many kids who slept through English class typing things like “your wrong” or “ZOMG im so kool”, you wouldn’t even be asking this question, since it seems that the only dangerous influence with your English spelling that you have to worry about is, again ironically enough, native speakers, particularly American.

  • Simon November 21, 2007, 10:40 am

    Thanks Markus, glad it’s useful. I’m working on a blogroll which will link to some other good writing sites too.

  • Markus November 21, 2007, 10:43 am

    wow! that’s cool 😉

  • Tha-Flash December 13, 2007, 8:40 pm

    I think I have this handled but we’ll see.

    Is this right?:

    “It’s your fault.”
    “You’re the best.”

    Is this wrong?:

    “Your so cool.”
    “It’s you’re turn.”

  • Simon December 14, 2007, 8:30 am

    Tha-Flash, yes, the first one is right, and the second is wrong. You’ve got it.

  • Helpless writer to be April 15, 2009, 3:24 am

    Would this sentence be right?

    “Well, you’re here and your going to face the usual punishment, so don’t be late next time.”

    Or is it wrong? Please help as I am hopeless in grammar.

  • Simon April 15, 2009, 10:25 am

    Helpless, that’s wrong! It should be: “Well, you’re here and you’re going to face …”.

    They are both the contracted form of “you are.”

  • DrRiff February 24, 2010, 5:57 pm

    The you’re/your usage is a problem, but I believe the worst usage is there, their, & they’re. Maybe you’ve touched on it here and I didn’t see it.

  • Hayley March 26, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Is this right?

    Your not funny.

    When you’re done please clean up your mess.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Simon March 27, 2010, 8:05 am

      No Hayley, That’s wrong. Half wrong, at least. It should be:

      ‘You’re not funny. When you’re done, please clean up….’

      They are both contractions of ‘you are.’

  • adam stringer May 5, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Is this right:

    Pick up your stuff.

    you’re going to drive me.


  • Simon May 5, 2010, 4:16 pm

    Adam, yep, that’s right.

  • Matt September 11, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Mostly agree with YOUR post, especially with the importance of good grammar, but it’s important to note that it’s not fine to have bad grammar when YOU’RE 17, YOUR basic grammar skills should be second nature by then. The differences between your and you’re are covered by second grade for most schools, and I say is that if YOUR basic grammar isn’t at least at a second grade level when YOU’RE 17, then YOUR goal of getting YOUR dream job is hopeless, so YOU’RE better off learning YOUR grammar long before then.

    Hopefully my post provided a hint to all of you young’uns that sleep through school nowadays. I hope that the people with this confusion are no older than 12, otherwise I will actually join the British and Canadians in laughing at us dumb Yanks and our failure to grasp elementary concepts.

    • Matt September 11, 2010, 1:15 pm

      Sorry, meant to say “then what I have to say is…”, shouldn’t post on the internet when tired. Ah well, at least I still look better than those Facebook kiddies.

  • writer jobs December 15, 2010, 11:17 am

    Very nice post- I know english well, but don’t now what the difference between these expressions

  • Chris Alta January 26, 2011, 8:09 am

    haha this is soo real. I hate when people mix the two up. It’s like come on now you really don’t know the difference? Oh well..someone has to let them know about their mistakes!



    • Everard Edbutt June 14, 2012, 6:38 pm

      Tell me about it. Its the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit!