Your guide to you’re and your

in Back to basics

This is the latest in the latest in my ‘back to basics’ blog posts. It was prompted by a recent coincidence. A colleague mentioned recently how frequently she saw “you’re” and “your” being confused. As if to prove her point, what did I see when I picked up a leaflet from a national retailer last weekend?

So, if you aren’t quite sure when to use “you’re” and when to use “your”, here’s my handy guide. 

You’re going to love this

“You’re” is short for “you are”, so the only time you use it is when this is what you mean.

You’re looking great (You are looking great)

You’re feeling sleepy (You are feeling sleepy)

You’re going to Cornwall on holiday (You are going to Cornwall on holiday)

Your writing will never feature this mistake again

Your means belonging to or associated with whatever it is you’re talking about:

Your new haircut makes you look great

Your lack of sleep is unfortunate

Your favourite place to go on holiday is Cornwall

As I discussed in It’s the problem with its, I think lots of people are worried by the lack of apostrophe in this context, which is what leads them to use the wrong version. For example because you’d say:

Robert’s new haircut looks great

Christine’s lack of sleep is unfortunate

Bill’s favourite place to go on holiday is Cornwall

It would be easy to assume that “your” cannot possibly be right because it doesn’t have an apostrophe. But it is!

Are there any words that you get confused about? Let me know and I’ll try to help you out in a future post.

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