What’s the difference between your and you’re?

What’s the difference between your and you’re?

by Laura Jones

Updated June 21, 2022

Are you finding knowing the difference between your and you’re tricky? You’re not alone. Even native English speakers often get confused and use the wrong word when they’re writing. And grammar checkers often don’t pick up when you make a mistake with this either. So you really need to learn it by heart! The two words have very different meanings and when you’re writing, the difference is important; it’s a pet peeve of many people when the words your and you’re get mixed up. So, let’s learn how to use your and you’re correctly. 

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The differences between your and you’re 

We’ll start with the grammar. Your is a possessive adjective. We use it to say that something belongs to you or the person you are speaking to. You’re is a contraction; it’s two words with an apostrophe in between. You’re is short for you are. The easiest way to tell the difference and to know which word you need to write is to try the sentence with you are instead. If it works, use you’re. That’s the grammar part but what about the pronunciation? Your and you’re are homophones, which means that they sound the same, so when you’re speaking, you can’t hear any difference between the two. 

Examples of how to use “your”

We just said that your is a possessive adjective. You probably know that adjectives in English describe nouns so you’ll most often see the word your with a noun. Here are some examples of when to use it.

We use your when the noun belongs to a person you’re talking to: 

  • This is your pen. 
  • Is your coat red?
  • Your shouting is going to wake up the baby! 
  • It’s not your fault.
  • Please wash your plate when you’ve finished eating. 

You can also use your to talk about people’s relatives or friends (and pets!): 

  • Is that your cousin?
  • Your dad is waiting outside. 
  • I love your dog; she’s so funny!
  • Your children are being very loud.

And, you can use it to talk about people’s body parts:

  • Your arm is bleeding.
  • Have you hurt your leg?

Not sure if you’re using this right? Try putting you are into any of these sentences: This is you are pen. Does that sound right? Definitely not! 

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Examples of how to use “you’re”

Now the contraction, you’re. We use contractions in informal writing and very often when we’re speaking; using contractions is a way to make your speech sound more natural. You’re is often followed by the present participle (-ing form) of a verb in the present continuous tense. Here are some examples of you’re in sentences: 

  • You’re coming to the park later, right?
  • You’re always so angry.
  • I heard you’re not feeling well. 
  • You’re such a kind person. 
  • I can understand that you’re angry but don’t blame me. 
  • You’re welcome!

Can you use your and you’re correctly?

It’s really important to nail the difference between your and you’re early on in your English grammar journey because you’ll use these basic words all the time. The key: your is a possessive adjective, just like my or his, and you’re is a contraction of you are. Remember, when you’re not sure whether to use your or you’re, you can try putting you are into the sentence: 

You are arm is bleeding – this sentence doesn’t make sense. 

You are such a kind person – yes, this sentence is good, so you’re works here. 

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Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio.

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