Communication Skills

JS Tip 89: From the Writing Workshops: Using “Your” and “You’re”

Rob Phillips of WesTech Engineering wrote “I would like to see some easy-to-remember tips on when to use ‘your’ or ‘you’re.’ I’m lousy at knowing which one your or you’re suppposed to use . . . .”

You see this mistake all the time. Writers aren’t sure, and the words sound alike. Hey. It’s an easy mistake to make.

It’s also an easy mistake to fix.

•    “Your” means “belonging to you.” “Your new running shoes.” “Your first marathon.” “Your sore muscles.”

Easy-to-remember tip: Think of how “your” and “our” are similar and look alike. “Our” means “belonging to us,” and “your” means “belonging to you.” Bingo. Easy.  

•    “You’re” is a contraction (a combination, a squeezing) of “You are.” Notice the apostrophe. The apostrophe often represents a letter or a space left out. In this case, the apostrophe represents both the space and the letter a. “You are” becomes “you’re.” 

Easy-to-remember tip: Watch for the ‘re combination [apostrophe—letter r—letter e]. Think of how re represents the remnant of “are.”

So go back to Rob’s concern: “I’m lousy at knowing which one you’re [you are] supposed to use.”

If you have questions, let us know. We love this stuff.

Next week: Numbers and numerals. When do you spell out the numbers? When do you use the numerals?  

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