29 March 2019
Do you know your you’re from your yore? Get your grammar right with our essential guidance
Using you’re and your correctly is fast becoming a dying art, but getting your you’res wrong and your apostrophes misplaced is one of the fastest ways to turn off an editor, agent or publisher. And for seasoned readers of indie books, it’s also one of the quickest ways to spot a poorly edited self-publisher.
Schools and universities no longer place as much emphasis on correct grammar as they used to, so a generation of new writers are coming through without the foundation on which to build clean, correct writing. So if you struggle with apostrophes and possessives, bookmark this page to check before submitting your next manuscript.
Using your and you’re correctly
Your and you’re are homophones, meaning they sound the same but have different meanings. In fact choosing the correct option, between your and you’re, isn’t that tricky if you step back to consider your meaning in the sentence you’re writing.
YOU’RE can only mean ‘you are’. The apostrophe is used to indicate a missing letter or a shortening, so stretch it back out. If what you are trying to write can be rephrased as ‘you are’, use ‘you’re'. For example, in the first paragraph of this section, look at the bold phrase.
“...in the sentence YOU ARE writing.” - so we can shorten it to “you’re”.
To aid your memory, it even looks like ‘you are’!
YOUR can only indicate possession. Only use it if you want to indicate the person you are talking about owning something. In our example sentence above, “...consider YOUR meaning”.
To aid your memory, it even looks like another possessive word that doesn’t cause as much confusion: our.
YOUR is a possessive adjective. You use it to describe something (a noun) when the word is in front of the thing you are describing.
• ‘Is this your dog?”
YOURS is its equivalent possessive pronoun (something which can replace the noun). In practice, this is used when it comes after the thing it describes, or the thing isn’t mentioned at all.
• “Is this dog yours?”
• “Is this yours?”
Common misspellings and mistakes
None of these is correct:
• Youre - there is no such word
• Your’e - the apostrophe is in the wrong place. It should separate the parts of ‘you’ and ‘are’
• You’res - is incorrect apart from in very niche, convoluted examples which treat the entirety of ‘you’re’ as a new noun, as in the first paragraph of this article!
• Yore - is a real word, meaning ‘long ago times’, but if you’re often confused about your ‘your’ homophones, your best bet would just be to forget it exists.
• Your’s - possibly the most common of the mistakes here, derived from comparison with other possessive phrases which serve as both adjectival phrase and pronoun (eg Simon’s: That is Simon’s cat. That cat is Simon’s.) If you struggle with this one, try to compare it with other possessive personal pronouns, none of which have an apostrophe: his, hers, theirs, ours.
We hope you have found this grammar guidance simple and easy to follow. Do you feel better equipped to handle your yours and you’res correctly now?
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