“Your” and “you’re” are something which even native speakers mix up quite frequently.
When reading or listening, the meaning is clear from the context. Luckily, when speaking they sound the same, so it’s only a problem in writing.
“Your” vs “You're” Difference
“Your” is a possessive pronoun
First, let’s look at the difference between the two.
“Your” is a possessive pronoun. We use it to refer to something which belongs to you.
For example, “Is this your bag?” means, “Does this bag belong to you?”
It doesn’t just refer to physical items, however, but nouns in general.
For example, “Your enthusiasm is wonderful!” means “I love that you are so enthusiastic!”
“You're” means “You are”
“You’re” is the contracted form of “you are.”
It’s typically followed by an adjective. For example, “You’re clever” which means, “You are clever.”
It could also be followed by a verb with -ing.
“You’re working so hard, well done!” means, “You are working so hard, well done!”
So, now the meanings have been cleared up, let’s look at how to make sure you’re using the correct one in writing.
“Your” or “You're?” How to self-check
Say it out loud
My first tip for you is to try saying “you are” in your head.
For example, to finish the previous sentence I might have said to myself, “Is it ‘you are head’ or ‘your head’?” Clearly, it’s not “you are head”!
My next tip is to focus when you’re reading.
Is the author using “your” or “you’re”? Why? What follows the word? Analyzing texts as you read them will help you solidify your understanding of the language.
My third tip is practice, practice, practice!
Write some sentences in your notebook using your and you’re.
Double-check them – have you used the correct form? Read them out loud.
Producing the language correctly in controlled practice is an excellent way to help you to start using them more automatically when writing.
Use the Predictive Text Feature
My final tip for you with your and you’re is to try typing on a smartphone, using the predictive text feature.
But, don’t just assume the phone is correct!
Look at the sentence you’ve written. Read it aloud, is it you are (you’re) or your? Double-check.
Sometimes it will suggest the correct alternative for you, sometimes it will suggest the wrong one.
Checking somebody else’s work helps you spot mistakes easier than checking our own, so consider using your phone's predictive text feature.
Speaking vs Writing
So, to sum up, you don’t need to worry about your and you’re when speaking.
When speaking, you don't have to use the form, “you are.” Use the contracted form, “you're.”
It’s clear which one you’re using from the context, and using contractions helps you sound more like a native speaker.
But be careful when writing.
Check by reading the sentence out loud and replace you’re or your with you are. Does it make sense? Look at it in other people’s work. Are they using it correctly?
And write your own practice sentences. The more you practice, the easier it’ll be!