Any grammarian/editor/English professor would tell you that one of the most annoying grammar errors ever is the confusion of your and you’re or any similar mistake, really, such as it’s and its.
The reason this confusion is so annoying is that although these homonyms sound alike, their meanings and usages are different.
Let’s begin with it’s and its. It’s, with an apostrophe, is a contraction. It can mean either it is or it has. Its, on the other hand, is the possessive form of the pronoun it. Here are some examples to show you their difference:
The dog likes to chase its tail.
He stops when it’s caught.
The difference between your and you’re is pretty much the same. Your is the possessive form of the pronoun you. You’re, on the other hand, is a contraction of you are. To illustrate, here are some examples:
They are sleeping over at your place tonight.
You’re going to be the host of the night.
Now that we’ve managed to differentiate the two, let’s answer the next question: why are they confused so often?
The thing is, it’s not just your and you’re that people get confused about. There, their, and there are also interchanged a lot. These words are called homonyms. They sound alike yet have different spellings and meanings. When we speak, we don’t have to worry about spelling; we just have to enunciate. In writing, on the other hand, something as simple as an apostrophe can drastically change everything.
If you’re still confused, here’s a simple trick: check if there is a noun close by. If there is a noun, go for the possessive. If there’s no noun, go for the contraction.
Another way to check is to expand the contraction to see whether it makes sense. If it doesn’t, chances are it’s the possessive form you’re after. (See what I did there?)
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