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Your and You're

Commonly Confused Words

By

Your is the possessive form of you. You're is the contraction of you are.

Examples:

  • You're responsible for your own behavior.

  • "Ferris Bueller, you're my hero."
    (Alan Ruck as Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986)

Usage Notes:

  • "YOUR or YOU'RE
    Two extremely common words that sound the same and have very similar spelling. . . .

    "As with confusions over 'its/it's' and 'whose/who's,' the way to check which one is correct is to experiment with the full-length version, in this case 'you are.' If it makes sense then you're is correct, if you want to abbreviate the expression. If it does not make sense, then the word you intended to write is your."
    (Philip Gooden, Who's Whose: A No-Nonsense Guide to to Easily Confused Words. Walker, 2004)


  • Beckett: [reading] "Psycho the rapist your out of time"?
    Lanie Parish: Looks like a patient lost their patience.
    Castle: Also his command of grammar. Your should be You-apostrophe-r-e, as in "you are." That's not even a tough one, not like when to use who or whom."
    Beckett: You really think that's the take-away here, Castle?
    Castle: I'm just saying--whoever killed her also murdered the English language.
    ("The Double Down," Castle, 2009)


  • "In addition to functioning as a possessive pronoun, your is often used without any particular meaning, more or less as an equivalent to the. Such usage is quite old: it was first recorded in the 16th century and can be found in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet. In modern idiom, it frequently occurs with such adjectives as average, standard, ordinary, usual, and basic:
    . . . sets him apart from your average professor of art history -- James Breckenridge, N.Y. Times Book Rev., 24 Feb. 1980 . . .

    . . . your basic historical pageant -- Alan Rich, New York, 15 Mar, 1976

    Your basic returning boomerang -- Stephen S. Hall, Smithsonian, June 1984
    Bishop Lowth objected to such usage in the 18th century, and Roy Copperud has objected to it in the 20th. Other usage commentators seem not to have had much to say about it. As the examples above indicate, it is right at home in casual prose but is not found in notably elevated written discourse."
    (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Merriam-Webster, 1994)

Practice:

(a) _____ car is blocking mine.

(b) _____ going to have to move your car.

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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