you're and your - the difference

Our most common search themes:

You're is short for you are.
Your shows that something belongs to "you" or is related to "you" (e.g., your car, your father).

You're and Your

Some writers are confused by you're and your. A mistake involving these constitutes a grammatical howler.


You're is a contraction of you are. It has no other uses. This is a 100% rule. If you cannot expand it to you are in your sentence, then it is wrong.

  • The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. (Lily Tomlin)
  • (Expands to you are – correct)
  • Doing nothing is very hard to do. You never know when you're finished. (Leslie Nielsen)
  • (Expands to you are – correct)
  • Please ask Joan to post the parcel when you're in London.
  • (Expands to you are – correct)
  • You said that you couldn't believe you're ears.
  • (Does not expand to you are – should be your)


The word your sits before another word (usually a noun or a pronoun) to show that it belongs to "you" (e.g., your car, your arm), is of "you" (e.g., your picture, your photograph) or is related to "you" (e.g., your uncle).

Your is a possessive adjective. (Other possessive adjectives are my, your, his, her, its, our, and their.)

  • Our expert will answer your questions about pensions and savings.
  • (questions belonging to "you")
  • Sarah doesn't look like your sister.
  • (related to "you")

    Select the correct version:



As a general rule, do not use contractions (e.g., you're, isn't, can't, don't, it's) in formal writing. Always expand them. One benefit of doing this is that you will never make a mistake with you're or it's (two notorious grammar villains).


The word yours is known as an absolute possessive (others are ours, his, and hers). There are no apostrophes in any absolute possessives. This is another 100% rule.

Here are two witty examples with your and you're used correctly to help you remember how to use them:
  • You're only as good as your last haircut. (Fran Lebowitz)
  • When you're eight years old nothing is your business. (Lenny Bruce)

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