Flashcard: Suffering From Homophonia?

ImageYou're sure to establish your credentials as a cretin by mixing up you're and your, and since we know that's not what you want, here's a little something to help you avoid it.

You're is a contraction for "you are," as in, "You're not illiterate; you just don't take the time to proofread."

Your is an adjective. Here's what our friends at Merriam-Webster say about it:

1: of or relating to you or yourself or yourselves especially as possessor or possessors (your bodies), agent or agents (your contributions), or object or objects of an action (your discharge)
2: of or relating to one or oneself (when you face the north, east is at your right)
3: used with little or no meaning almost as an equivalent to the definite article the (a trait ... that sets him apart from your average professor — James Breckenridge)

Okay, maybe that's too much information, so here's a pithy way to remember when to use you're and when to use your:

When you feel the urge to write you're or your, write "you are" instead: "You are reluctant to proofread because you might find mistakes you don't feel like correcting." If the sentence makes sense, you can use the contraction of "you are": "You're reluctant to proofread because you might find mistakes you don't feel like correcting"; if the sentence doesn't make sense — "What if you are reluctance to proofread unmasks you as a careless boob?" — you need your, thus: "What if your reluctance to proofread unmasks you as a careless boob?"

By the same token, even if you mix up you're and your in your original draft, you can catch the error when you proofread by saying to yourself "you are" each time you encounter you're or your. If you do that and end up saying something like, "You are fly is open, you careless boob," you'll know you're ("you are") on the wrong track.

Now that you've mastered this homophone, you should be ready to slay the fearsome three-headed beast known as

When you feel the urge to write you're or your, write "you are" instead.

they're/their/there. But as we don't want your (not "you are") head to explode, we'll save that for next time. Let us now end our discussion of you're and your with two related definitions:

Yore: noun; Middle English; time past and especially long past — usually used in the phrase "of yore"
Yorn: patronymic; used with Pete, shaggy-haired singer-songwriter, talent managers Rick and Julie, and entertainment attorney Kevin, among others.