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It’s vs. Its, Your vs. You’re, and There vs. Their and They’re

Help for Correct English Usage

Some of the trickiest words in the English language are short, seemingly simple combinations of letters which sound the same as others that have DIFFERENT meanings. These commonly confused words are called homophones (“same sounds”). Let’s learn how to swat down the most frequently mixed-up ones — it’s vs. its, your vs. you’re, and there vs. their and they’re — so that your writing can sparkle with perfection!

“Your” vs. “You’re”

Your” means “belonging to you,” while “you’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are” in order to mean: “You are.” If you are ever unsure about which one to use, just do the test: “Do I mean ‘You are?'” If so, use “you’re.”

Your vs. You're
“You’re” vs. “your,” illustrated.

Your and You’re in a Sentence

Here’s an example sentence showing how to use both words correctly: Your octopus (the octopus belonging to you) has escaped, and you’re (you are) going to spend the next three hours looking for it!

“It’s” vs. “Its”

It’s” means “it is” (it’s a contraction of those two words), and “its” means, “Belonging to it.” This is are commonly confused words, because usually “belonging” words have an apostrophe before the “s” — but not “its!”

Its vs. It's
To remember “its” vs. “it’s,” think of this monster!

It’s and Its in a Sentence

Here’s an example of a sentence using them both correctly: It’s (it is) the middle of the night, and I know the monster has come to eat my veggies, because I hear its hairy paw (the paw belonging to it) prying open the refrigerator door.

“Their” vs. “They’re” vs. “There”

Their” means “belonging to them.” “They’re” means “they are” (in contraction form). “There” refers to location, as in where something is.

A Sentence with Their, They’re and There

Here’s an example sentence using them all correctly: Their drawings (the drawings belonging to them) were on the shelf over there (the location), but now they’re (they are) gone because a purple whale jumped out of the ocean and gobbled them up — not even saying sorry!”

There they're or their
Learn the difference between “there,” “they’re,” and “their!”

Common Editing Mistakes Worksheet

Want a printable (or electronic) four-page interactive lesson on more of the most commonly confused words? Click to see this grammar and editing worksheet from my online store, which gets high reviews! I hope you find it as useful and enjoyable as my students do.

There are lots of other frequent mistakes in that worksheet, from “apart vs. a part” to “whose vs. who’s” to “passed vs. past,” and “everyday vs. every day.” You can also click on those links to see my free online lessons — good for kids and adults alike — about how to use those words correctly.

VIDEO: It’s vs. Its, Your vs. You’re, and They’re vs. Their and There

More English Language Arts Lessons:

Curious to see other educational cartoons from this friendly middle school ELA teacher and artist, Lillie Marshall? (Don’t be frightened by the fact that I teach 7th grade — these articles are good for all ages.) Check them out here:

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