Sunday, September 2, 2007

Your Versus You're: An Epic Battle

One of the most-covered grammar topics out there is “you” versus “you're” yet it still ranks as the most frequent error I see. (“Its” and “It's” run a close second in this race.)

As a hypothetical example, take a blog named “Your Fun”. Would you assume that the author intends to tell you about fun things to do or to find on the Internet? In actuality, the blog contains posts “to” other bloggers telling them that a post on their blog is fun. Clearly, at least to me, the writer means “You're Fun”, and intends to compliment other people.

The difference between the two words is easy to remember, if you take your time when you are writing. Stop for a moment and ask yourself if you are saying something is “yours”, indicating ownership and thus no apostrophe.

If you mean that someone sounds or acts like something (“You're silly!”) then you are telling them, “You are...” The apostrophe is simply a way to knock out the space and the letter “a” and create a contraction. In writing, the difference in size barely registers and does not factor into your composition beyond the “should I use contractions?” debate that I covered elsewhere.

Concern yourself with eliminating the contraction and you will solve your own problem. If you mean “you are” then write it. If you don't, then you either have the wrong word or you meant “that belongs to you”. In that case, use “your”. When you talk to your brother about his shoes, it's "your". When you talk about his actions, like his failure to take a shower, it's "you are". "You're stinky, and so are your shoes."

If you still find this difficult, consider that pronouns (you, he, she, they, it) don't have apostrophes in their possessive forms (yours, his, hers, theirs, its). Nouns do. A little attention to your meaning saves a lot of confusion in your writing. You'll also save people who care about language a large amount of frustration.




We are gonna get along!!! ;)

MA English: Language, Writing, Rhetoric Cal State Fullerton 1998

Credentialed elementary school teacher since 1997.

Part time college writing instructor

Wacky author of "Riley Central."

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I wandered over through crkian's daily blog post. Thanks for your kind words and for the link. I'll definitely be re-visiting your blog, too.