The Writer’s Toolbox – You’re Absolutely Right

Last week we looked at three commonly confused words: there, their, and they’re. This week we’ll move on to a related, equally tricky set: your, you’re, and yours.

But first: the answer’s to last week’s challenge. Did you get them right? Alex Poulton was the first to send in the correct responses?congratulations, Alex!

Original: I look over they’re and see that their there with their kids and there pets.
Corrected Version: I look over there and see that they’re there with their kids and their pets.

Briefly: in over there, the first there is an adverb signifying direction; in they’re there, they’re is a short form for they are, and the original there was correct; their kids was correct because it indicates possession; and their pets also indicates possession.

Original: Their will come a time when their going to fight because their just not happy with there relationship.
Corrected version: There will come a time when they’re going to fight because they’re just not happy with their relationship.

Again, quickly: it’s There will come because it’s an adverb and isn’t showing possession; they’re going to because they’re stands in for they are; they’re just not happy for the same reason; and their relationship because it shows possession.

Your vs. You’re
These two words are constantly misused to the point that many of us are unsure of the correct usage (social media and the advertising world are the biggest offenders). However, it’s very, very simple.

Your is similar to their, in that it shows possession, ownership, or a similar relationship.

You’re is a contraction that means you are. It’s always spelled with the apostrophe; despite what your phone’s autocorrect might say, it’s not youre.

If you can substitute you are, use you’re. If you’re indicating possession, ownership, or a similar relationship, use your.

That’s it. Really. Now for some examples:

Example A: You’re really going to give him your watch? The first you’re means you are, so you’re is correct. The second indicates possession, so your is used.

Example B: You’re out of your mind if you think you’re going to the party without doing your homework. Both times you’re is used, you can substitute you are; and it’s your mind and your homework because there’s a possessive relationship.

Yours is a possessive pronoun like your, just in a different form. It does not take an apostrophe?ever.

Example C: “Is that your watch?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “It’s yours.”

Your, you’re, and yours may be commonly confused, but there’s really no overlap; it’s easy to figure out if you stop and think. You’re on your way (see what I did there?) to great grammar!

Christina M. Frey is a book editor, literary coach, and lover of great writing. For more tips and techniques for your toolbox, follow her on Twitter (@turntopage2) or visit her blog.