you’re vs. your

What is the difference between you’re and your?

One very common mistake many writers make is to use the word your when they mean to write you’re.
You’re is a contraction of you and the linking and auxiliary verb are; it is used when describing a person’s actions or characteristics. For example:
  • “She said you’re (you are) leaving in the morning.”
  • “I don’t know why you’re (you are) so upset!”
  • You’re (you are) a good student, so I’m sure you won’t have any problem with this assignment.”
Your is a possessive determiner (also called a possessive adjective), so it is used when describing a person’s possession of something. Because it is a determiner, it is almost always followed immediately by the noun it is describing. For example:
  • “I’m not sure your point (possession of point) is relevant.”
  • “We’re going to remodel your old room (possession of old room), so put aside anything you don’t want thrown away.”
This difference (and the resulting confusion) between you’re and your is the same as between many other homophonic pairs of contractions and possessive determiners, such as it’s and its, they’re and their, and who’s and whose. Just remember that if you are describing a pronoun or any sort of action it performs, then you must use the spelling that features an apostrophe, as it is incorporating the verbs is, has, or are. If you are using a pronoun to describe possession of another noun, the spelling without an apostrophe is correct.
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