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The Battle of the Typos: Your Versus You’re (and Others)

Whether we can call them typos or learning errors, the clash of your versus you’re in the English language seems to be never-ending. For English learners around the world (you and me included), these two are some of the more frequent slip-ups when writing or typing.

 

There are other English words that belong to this list, such as their, they’re, and there

 

What exactly is the reason for mixing these words up so frequently? Is there a simple way around it? Sure there is! Now, let’s settle this fight once and for all.

 

Why Do English Learners Mix Up Your and You’re?

By definition, homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings (for example, knight and night). Now, because homophones are basically the the same exact word when you say them out loud, you don’t necessarily focus on their spelling. 

 

This is why these mix-ups most often occur in writing and, as such, are very noticeable.

 

Let’s take a look at some common homophones in everyday English:

 

its versus it’s

hear versus here

plain versus plane

write versus right

see versus sea

duel versus dual

alter versus altar

deer versus dear

very versus vary

reign versus rein versus rain

 

This list goes on but there is one particular homophone pair in English that just keeps coming up (and for all the wrong reasons). It’s, of course, the words your and you’re. Now that we’re all here, let’s settle this dilemma once and for all.

 

Your Versus You’re: Explained

Your is a possessive pronoun which means belonging to you.

You’re is a contraction (the shorter form) of you are.

 

The main (and only) rule: These two are not interchangeable. In fact, in most cases, using the wrong word will probably make zero sense in any sentence.

 

To paint a better picture of the differences between these two, here are a few more examples:

 

This is your house. (correct)

This is you’re house. (incorrect)

 

Let’s go to your favourite restaurant. (correct)

Let’s go to you’re favourite restaurant. (incorrect)

 

I’ve taken a look at your proposal – it’s great! (correct)

I’ve taken a look at you’re proposal – it’s excellent! (incorrect)

 

Keep going! You’re doing a phenomenal job! (correct)

Keep going! Your doing a phenomenal job! (incorrect)

 

You’re not making any sense right now. (correct)

Your not making any sense right now. (incorrect)

 

You’re a very good student. (correct)

Your a very good student. (incorrect)

 

Fun fact: Correct grammar actually saves lives! Between your dinner and you’re dinner, you’d be hard pressed to choose the latter. The first leaves you nourished, the other one leaves you dead!

 

Hopefully, the explanations and examples above can end the battle of your versus you’re once and for all. Now, all you have to do is memorize and practice.

 

Bonus: Their vs. They’re vs. There

Their is a possessive pronoun which means belonging to them.

They’re is a contraction (the shorter form) of they are.

There is an adverb which means in, at or to that place or position.

 

Here are some examples which demonstrate their differences:

 

Remember the Logans? We went to their vacation home last summer. (correct)

Remember the Logans? We went to they’re vacation home last summer. (incorrect)

Remember the Logans? We went to there vacation home last summer. (incorrect)

Cut them some slack! They’re doing the best they can, okay?! (correct)

Cut them some slack! Their doing the best they can, okay?! (incorrect)

Cut them some slack! There doing the best they can, okay?! (incorrect)

 

See you later! I’ll meet you there at 9. (correct)

See you later! I’ll meet you their at 9. (incorrect)

See you later! I’ll meet you they’re at 9. (incorrect)

 

Now, Let’s Practice a Bit

How well did you master today’s homophones? Let’s find out. Thread carefully and good luck!

 

  1. Joanna, right? Nice to meet you. Justin told me he was _________ friend.
  2. You cannot steal our neighbours’ things. This is _________ dog, okay?!
  3. Hey, I think _________ in the same class as me. AP Chemistry, right?
  4. Honey, I’m worried about the kids. I hope _________ sleeping by now.
  5. _________ the worst team in the league. We beat them six times already.
  6. You need to start taking responsibility for _________ actions!
  7. I’m sorry, I didn’t see _________ message. I ran out of data this morning.
  8. I’m telling you, Keanu Reeves was _________! I saw him in the crowd!
  9. Hello! Earth to Ken! God, I feel like most of the time _________ not even listening to me!
  10. I’m sorry about _________ loss. I can’t even imagine what _________ going through.

 

The Answers:

 

  1. Joanna, right? Nice to meet you. Justin told me he was your friend.
  2. You cannot steal our neighbours’ things. This is their dog, okay?!
  3. Hey, I think you’re in the same class as me. AP Chemistry, right?
  4. Honey, I’m worried about the kids. I hope they’re sleeping by now.
  5. They’re the worst team in the league. We beat them 6 times already.
  6. You need to start taking responsibility for your actions!
  7. I’m sorry, I didn’t see your message. I ran out of data this morning.
  8. I’m telling you, Keanu Reeves was there! I saw him in the crowd!
  9. Hello! Earth to Ken! God, I feel like most of the time you’re not even listening to me!
  10. I’m sorry about your/their loss. I can’t even imagine what you’re/they’re going through.

 

We’d like to hear how you did! Share this post on social media and help others never make the same mistakes again.

 

Want to Become the Master of Homophones in English? Practice Your Versus You’re with LingQ!

LingQ Mobile

With the LingQ mobile app, you can take your English vocabulary practice on the go! Import articles, videos or any online content into your lessons. Learn English with the content you love.

 

Download the LingQ mobile app now: 

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Until next time, happy learning, everyone!

 

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Jasmin Alić is an award-winning EFL/ESL teacher and writing aficionado from Bosnia and Herzegovina with years of experience in multicultural learning environments.