A frighteningly large percentage of individuals fail to understand how to use the words “you’re” and “your.” Here is a quick crash course on this common usage problem.

Understand the proper usage of the word you need. The best way to do that is to sound it out. There is a replacement test that will tell you for certain which word will fit. Read the sentence with “you are” in place of where the “your/you’re” is intended. If it makes sense, then “you’re” would be right. If not, then “your” would fit. You could also replace “your” with “my” in the sentence. If it fits, then use “your.”

Write You’re as a contraction or a combination, of the words you and are. Other examples of contractions include doesn’t” for “does not,” they’re” for “they are,” and can’t” for “cannot.” Write-your-as-the-possessive-form-of-you
  • “You’re a good friend” means “You are a good friend.”
  • “I don’t know what you’re talking about” means “I do not know what you are talking about.”
Write your as the possessive form of you, referring to something that a person has, something that belongs to the person in question, or the person you are talking to. Write-your-as-the-possessive-form-of-you
  • “Is your stomach growling?”
  • Your book is on the table.”
 Take a look at some examples. Each of the following examples shows an incorrect use of your/you’re, and why it is incorrect.  Take-a-look-at-some-examples
  • “I can’t read you’re handwriting.”
    • Incorrect, because the contraction for “you are” is being used in place of the possessive form of you. I can’t read you are handwriting doesn’t make sense. It should be replaced with “your”.
  • “If your hungry, then you should probably eat something.”
    • Incorrect because there is no possession in question. This passes the replacement test. Rewriting it with “you are” fits. This should be replaced with you’re, or you are.
  • “I think your very smart.”
    • Again, incorrect. The “very smart” does not belong to the person that you are talking to — this doesn’t make any sense. Replace your with you’re, or you are.


  • English can be complicated, because there’s an exception to every rule. Ex.: Keep in mind that the word your will never be followed by the words the, a, or an.
  • The word your will usually not be followed by an adjective, a word that describes, when that adjective is describing the person that you are talking to. In other words, saying “Your very kind” will almost never be correct. “Your very kind” would be correct if they were describing a noun, as in “Your nice son brought me my coat.” Here, your nice is correct because nice is describing the person’s son.
  • Remember that you’re is actually a combination of two words and thus fulfills two very important roles in a sentence or clause. Because it includes both a pronoun and a verb, you’re will always be the subject and at least part of the verb of any clause in which it appears.
  • Try replacing “your” or “you’re” with “you are” if you are unsure which to use. If the sentence makes sense, use “you’re.” Remember that only “you’re” is a contraction. The apostrophe in “you’re” signifies the omission of the letter “a.” If the sentence does not make sense, you will know to use “your.”
  • For example:
    • “You’re a good writer!” and “You are a good writer!” “You are” makes sense in this sentence, so you can use “you’re.”
    • “I cannot read you’re handwriting.” and “I cannot read you are handwriting.” “You are” does not make sense in this sentence, so you should use “your.”
  • Try not to think that proper writing is strictly “academic”. It makes you appear more intelligent. More importantly, it eliminates the risk of bad habits “slipping out” in situations in which it is critical to convey propriety, such as writing a college essay or a job résumé.
  • Just remember “You’re not spelling your words correctly,” and it all falls into place.