Social Question

plethora's avatar

Does it amaze you that a vast number of English speaking Americans have no idea how to differentiate between the use of "your" and "you're"?

Asked by plethora (9579points) February 15th, 2010

Do you have any idea why these two words of vastly different meaning are so frequently misused? How does it make you feel when you see them misused? Do you care? Does it annoy you? Do you think the person doing it is a dunce?

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59 Answers

MrGV's avatar

It’s the internet not English class.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I always shed a tear for the American education system. I wouldn’t say it annoys me, but rather discourages me and makes me a bit more pessimistic about the future.

I feel the same way about there / their / they’re.

Likeradar's avatar

It drives me crazy to no end, and it makes me wonder how these people possibly got out of high school. (hell, forget high school… try 5th grade)

edit: The occasional typo or mistake is one thing. Continual mangling of the English language by native speakers is something else all together.

Berserker's avatar

I’ve noticed a lot of people get it wrong, along with then and than, but frankly it’s not my problem and I don’t care.

Being French originally, I had problems with English for a long time so I ain’t about to say much more.

Arisztid's avatar

I do not know what your talking about. Americans never loose touch with they’re English skills. I mean, it is not two difficult too spell good.

plethora's avatar

Note: Under “topics” for this question, Fluther does not permit “you’re”.

Judi's avatar

There’s always there, their and they’re as well.

Grisaille's avatar

I have no idea what your talking about.

Likeradar's avatar

@Arisztid Your definiteley rite.


Yes, that and the difference between “effect” and “affect”, “it’s” and “its”, “their”, “there” and “they’re, “then” and “than”, and many others! Sigh.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Is my work being graded?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Then I hope I won’t be judged harshly for the inevitable typo.

If I’m reading an official document or professional work I expect grammatical correctness.
For social networking, I don’t really care. The intent of the message is more important there.

However I am a believer in the idea that that good practice habits make for good professional habits.

lilikoi's avatar

This is a major pet-peeve of mine.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@johnpowell That was great! Thanks for sharing.

Berserker's avatar

@Arisztid LOL Arisztid I noticed you edited your answer because you actually wrote you’re at first which was correct.
Editing to purposely make mistakes is classic. :)

Judi's avatar

I do have to plead my case just a bit. On the iPhone, if you screw up and want to edit, you can only edit the first few lines or so. I hope my fellow jellies will give my fat fingers some grace.

faye's avatar

I am very surpised at all the mistakes made but I also admit I search for different words or phrases to stay away from lie, lay and their buddies.

Grisaille's avatar

@faye You are not alone. I do it with similar words, I’m sure. I just can’t recall them.

Arisztid's avatar

@Likeradar Thankyou. I try to rite well whenever possible. :D

@Symbeline I could not let that correct spelling stand in this thread.

AstroChuck's avatar

And let’s not forget yore.

Likeradar's avatar

@Arisztid U do rite good.

DominicX's avatar

How do you know it’s because they don’t understand the difference? What if it’s a simple error?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I consistently type “it’s” when I mean “its”. I understand the difference. It’s been pointed out to me several times. But I still keep doing it for some reason. Thank goodness for the “edit this comment” grace period. I always go back and change it if I can.

judochop's avatar

I don’t think that I really read “you’re” as “you are” anyway. I think it is one of the silly things that the English language has about it that makes it so hard to understand.
If I were to write:
(Youre not going to your friend Sallys house so dont even ask.)
You still read it the same as:
(You’re not going to your friend Sally’s house, so don’t even ask!)

augustlan's avatar

These types of mistakes are all to two too common. ;)

Berserker's avatar

@judochop Yeah. Apostrophes are what I had the most problem with when I was learning English and to this day I say, English be damned.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

No, I see it all the time. I myself know the difference between the two very well but often mis type, it happens. Oh well.

HTDC's avatar

It doesn’t amaze me. “You’re” and “your” are pronounced virtually the same, so it makes sense that when people go to write something they use these words interchangeably, even thought it is incorrect. It is such an easy mistake to make, I don’t blame anyone for doing it, even if it’s done more than once.

Darwin's avatar

While “you’re” and “your” are pronounced the same, as are “they’re” and “their,” I find it difficult to restrain a sigh when faced with someone who fails to understand the differences between “affect” and “effect.” They have failed to learn that such confusion affects my opinion of their education so the end effect is that they appear unlearned.

Then I firmly believe that there is a special place in Hell for those who think that a plural requires an apostrophe. There is a sign painter in our town who has added extraneous apostrophes to signs all over our city, making objects for sale appear to be rather possessive.

absalom's avatar


Their confusion effects my opinion, to be honest, and the end affect in me is of general hopelessness.

I think a/effect are more confusing than your/you’re.

The more disgusting trait, though, is feeling superior to others because they can’t distinguish the difference between – you must admit – very similar words. It seems a feeble way of “elevating” oneself. I have no patience for people who persistently ruin conversations on the Internet or elsewhere by correcting others’ grammar. I would like to tell them to get a life.

DominicX's avatar


To me, knowing the difference between “you’re” and “your” is not very impressive. Congratulations, I’ve known that since I was in 1st grade. I’m not sure why anyone would think it could “elevate” them. Often, correcting someone’s grammar online is rude and completely unncessary. I’ve noticed that when people do this (at least on Fluther), they almost never answer the question.

absalom's avatar


Yeah, I noticed that too. Especially with new-comers who aren’t aware of the expectations around here. Instead of finding answers they’re just made fun of for their spelling or grammar. It’s stupid.

I have also seen instances in which people use others’ your/you’re mistakes to call them stupid, to claim a more developed intellect, etc. And it irritates me.

Darwin's avatar

@absalom – This question is about how we feel about common grammatical errors. It is not about how you feel about those who dislike those errors. I never correct the grammar of others in a rude way, and frequently simply quietly deplore it to myself.

However, affect and effect are quite different words and actually easily distinguished if one has ever bothered to learn the differences. If you know such a person you might direct their attention to this site, from which I quote:

“Generally speaking, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. When you affect something, you produce an effect on it. Even in the passive voice, something would be affected, not effected… There are certain situations where effect is used as a verb and situations where affect is used as a noun, but very few people ever have a need to use them thus, so unless you are already confident of your ability to use these words correctly, just treat as general the rule that effect is a noun and affect a verb.”

absalom's avatar


So I answered the question, and then talked about something else that had nothing to do with you.

I’m sorry, what’s the problem?

Darwin's avatar

Stay on topic, please.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Slightly relevant

but worth a look, none the less

ucme's avatar

Those long winter nights must fly by.

Broken_Arrow's avatar

Hmmm…no. Actually, I’m amazed the average American has learned that much.

iphigeneia's avatar

I don’t get annoyed with people who make mistakes, I know there’s a great big hole in most school curricula where English grammar should be.

I do get annoyed when people say things like “omg its just the internet im not writing a fucken essay get over it” when what they’ve written is downright incorrect. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Oops! silly me :)” instead of getting aggressive.

plethora's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Your grammar, sir, is impeccable.

plethora's avatar

@iphigeneia You are so right.

plethora's avatar

@Darwin You are absolutely correct, but I fear the person who needs to read that distinction (affect vs effect) would be able to comprehend it.

Jeruba's avatar

It bothers me, but it doesn’t amaze me any more. A few years ago it did, but since then I have spent a lot of time on sites like this one that draw contributions from a very wide spectrum of the population, and my amazement threshold has gone way up.

I have a theory that inability to distinguish between or among such simple words such as

you’re and your
they’re, their, and there
here and hear
it’s and its
and even to and too (which I thought we ought to have mastered in second grade)

not to mention the sheer incomprehension behind such disastrous formulations as “Wallah!” and “ordurbs” is the result of hearing them spoken, as on TV or in films, and never seeing them written down. If they’re clear enough when you hear them, why isn’t a homophone—or, failing that, a phonetic approximation—good enough?

I would have thought that the upsurge in written communications, with e-mail, e-lists, and texting, would have brought about a heightened interest in mastery of written language. But instead, helped along in no small degree by the perversions of advertising (“E-Z,” “4U,” “lite”), it has spawned a strange new written medium consisting of fractured words and quasi-pictures that will probably provide topics for scores of Ph.D. theses a couple of centuries from now. I wonder what language those will be written in.

DominicX's avatar


Up until I was in middle school, I saw “hors d’oeuvre” in my mind as “orderve”.

You have to admit, that one is hard. Especially since it switches some of the letters around. The “v” is before the “r” in the actual spelling, yet we pronounce the “r” before the “v”. It’s the same thing with “Bret FARV” and “comfterble”.


I find that people only react that way when the “correction” is given in a condescending sarcastic way. I’ve corrected people before (along with answering the question) by saying “I’m pretty sure you meant X, but…”. Seems to be taken better that way.

Judi's avatar

My daughter is an English teacher and has decided that language is in a constant state of evolution, so she has decided not to get to upset about text speak and the changes that have come about with the intranet.
She feels like she is witnessing evolution rather than the rape of a language. I think she has a healthy perspective.

faye's avatar

@DominicX Okay, I’ve tried, what is Bret FARV?

plethora's avatar

@Judi The language has always evolved. There are far more words in the language now than say 500 years ago. Textspeak is understandable. It’s code to reduce keystrokes, similar to Morse code. I do textspeak myself. That, however, is nothing like complete ignorance of established rules of grammar just because one is too stupid or lazy to learn English, especially when it is one’s native language. I would imagine your daughter sees the language raped so regularly that she has to have some valve to blow it off just to survive as an English teacher.

DominicX's avatar


Sorry, it’s two “t’s”. Brett Favre, the football player, pronounces his last name “Farve”, despite the fact that the “v” comes before the “r”. Similar to the way we pronounce “hors d’oeuvre”.

absalom's avatar


How would she handle an essay written partially (or entirely) in ‘textspeak’?

faye's avatar

@DominicX explains why it was no word I could figure out! Thanks.

Judi's avatar

@absalom ; I’m sure that she would be picker about her assignments than she is about Internet communications. It is all a matter of being appropriate for the forum. I think a txt spk essay would be a fun assignment though!

iphigeneia's avatar

Haha, it’s interesting that three of the examples of words that people have trouble spelling used here (voila, hors d’oeuvre, Favre) were stolen from the French. I agree with your theory, @Jeruba: all the rest can probably be blamed on a declining interest in reading.

@DominicX You’re right, people do usually react rudely when a correction is suggested in a rude way, but in my experience there are many people who become hostile at well-meaning and kindly-phrased corrections, and those people have no idea about what the rules are, and don’t care.

Grisaille's avatar

I’m not ashamed to admit that even though I know the rules for “then and than”, I occasionally lose confidence mid-sentence and look it up anyway.

augustlan's avatar

I’m not ashamed to admit that I once sent Jeruba a PM asking whether or not “let’s” needed the apostrophe. At least we double check, @Grisaille! :D

Likeradar's avatar

@Grisaille and @augustlan I’ve rearranged sentences when I can’t remember the then/than affect/effect rules

EmpressPixie's avatar

I can never remember affect/effect rules and go to ridiculous lengths to avoid ever using them in writing.

Judi's avatar

I get even more confused because of the use of the word affect as in “He had a flat affect.” Now I wonder if there is a different spelling when used that way. It’s pronounced different.

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