Grammar for Grown Folks. How to Use You’re and Your.

Lemme share this text conversation between Dude 1 and I that occurred recently.

your vs you're

First, this is a perfect demonstration of what life is like with a middle school dude.  You do all of the talking, he responds only when necessary and in the briefest way possible.  And, even the most basic things often get dragged out into a thing.  By me, of course.

Now, let’s get down to dissecting the actual content of this conversation.  Before we go any further let me apologize to Ms. Cracken, it was just too easy I just have to say that my Dude is so polite.  He has such awesome manners.  They even shines through in his texting.

He is perfect with his please and thank you’s and his your welcomes.

Whoooooa.  Your=bad.

Like so many other Americans, grammar is not his friend.

Only, unlike the parents of many of this nation’s citizens, I won’t stand idly by while my child butchers the English language.

That’s not how I roll.

Plus, this is EASY.

I’m no grammar police.  You can struggle with possessive apostrophes all you want (I still do, especially when the word ends in s, because do you add another, or not?).  Get confused over the past tense version of drag (it’s dragged, not drug, for the record) if you must.  But don’t mess up contractions.  Especially not THAT contraction.

Following this exchange (and a follow up lesson when I returned home), I’m pretty sure my kid won’t be caught dead ruining my rep your or you’re again.

I was happy to let it go until I got a series of emails from people in my own community, some of whom are in charge of educating this nation’s youth (not mine, but some of yours), and I realized I needed to say something.

I could no longer tolerate the rampant disregard for such a simple element of our communication system.  Something had to be done, or this whole land was going to be covered in ice and snow while I sat in an ice castle somewhere building dimwitted snow people and singing angsty songs to myself.

So, as any sensible human with something to say would do, I went ahead and posted this on Facebook, as a PSA of sorts…

grammar lesson

Basically everyone agreed with me.  And asked for more.

And, because this is a really, super easy lesson in grammar that we all should’ve had no later than say, um, fourth grade, I’m gonna lay this out for you here.  Feel free to share it with your kids, and their friends, and their friends’ parents.

5 Things to know About How to Use Your and You’re

1.  You’re is a contraction.  It’s the two separate words you and are shoved together for convenience to create one happy little word.  Just like don’t and can’t and won’t and shouldn’t.  Those don’t confuse you and this one should not shouldn’t either.

2.  Your is a word meant to express possession.  Like, “Is that your bike?”  Or, “When did you get your braces on?”  Or, “Buy those pants, they are so your jam.”  Own it, but use it correctly.

3.  You’re and your are not interchangeable.  Never in life will you be able to use one or the other in the same sentence depending on how you’re feeling that day.  Only one is correct.  You have to choose.

4.  There’s an easy way to test.  If you’re about to update your Facebook status using the word your and in so doing you realize that you can take out your and put you are in it’s place and it works, you have a problem.  Let me show you…

your or you're

I have your book in my bag.

Remove YOUR and add YOU ARE.

I have you are book in my bag.

See that?  See that right there? WRONG!  It’s your, no apostrophe shoved in there.  No e on the end.  Four letters.  The end.

Just to show you how to check it the other way, another example…

Your my favorite person.

Again, remove the YOUR and toss in a YOU ARE.

You are my favorite person.

Ooooh, sounds nice.

You are fits so go back to your original sentence and erase your because you should be using you’re.  Two words, smashed together, made awesome with an apostrophe shoved in the middle.

5.  If you’re unsure, be silent.  Everyone has slipups occasionally.  I’ve done the whole to instead of too thing before.  Autocorrect has gotten me into stupid.  I get it, it happens to everyone.  But, if you’re consistently struggling with language mechanics to the point that your friends are making fun of you behind your back (they are, I know you don’t believe me, because it’s behind your back, but they’re laughing), you should seek help (check out this Grammar Girl post to start).  Even if you’re all, if they were my real friends they wouldn’t be laughing about this, think about your rep.  Your boss has to read what you write, and your coworkers, and your son’s teacher, and the parents of the kids in your class or on your team.  You want to make a good impression on those people.  And you won’t if you don’t stop screwing with your and you’re.

Lesson on there, their, and they’re coming at you next.  Followed by one on when to use A vs An.

*For the record, I was a middle school Language Arts teacher in my former life and students never, ever, ever left my class without this lesson.  Oakland, California can thank me because it has at least 180 now grown up citizens who know how to use you’re and your.  The cycle of excellence continues!


  1. lanalouwho says

    Every time I see this mistake I think of Friends, when Ross is yelling at Rachel.
    ” For the record, Y O U apostrophe R E means you are. Y O U R means your!”

  2. says

    And if you’re texting you can type in “yourr” and it will auto correct it to “you’re”…so you can still be lazy.

  3. says

    This is one of my pet peeves as well. And, yes, I too find it especially disturbing to see this error committed by people in the field of education.

  4. Allison says

    This was, honestly, perfect. I’ve been called a grammar Nazi by folks who just don’t seem to get it. It’s your language. You speak it every day. It’s not terribly difficult, but it’s like no one cares. It physically pains me when I people who are teachers make the mistakes on their Facebook posts. Come on! No mathematician wouldn’t correct you if you said 2 + 2 = 17 or chemist cheer you on if you said H2O was lead, so why does grammar get the short shrift?

  5. says

    I do the same thing. I have just about given up correcting my kid’s texts…but sometimes I just can’t stand it any more and have to…now facebook? I correct those comments all the time…their/there/they’re, either/neither, you/your/you’re…drives me nuts, as do dangling participles!

  6. says

    I am always amazed at how grammar is not being enforced within our youth. Remember the days of diagraming sentences? Love this post!

    ~stopping by from Mama Kat’s