There are several words in English that sound the same, but are spelled differently, yet none of them drive learners (and native speakers!) as crazy as “your” and “you’re”.
So what’s the difference between them? And more importantly, how do you know when to use which? Well, it’s easier than you think with a simple trick!
Despite sounding similar, “your” and “you’re” aren’t the same; “you’re” isn’t even one word! “Your” is a possessive that informs the reader that something belongs to someone. For example, “your dog” is the dog that belongs to you; “your problem” is the problem that belongs to you. So what about “you’re”? It’s special because it has an apostrophe. This apostrophe is about to make your life much easier.
“You’re” is a contraction, which means it’s two words crunched into one (the apostrophe here signalizes that what you’re looking at is a contraction). In its full form it stands for “you are”. For example, “you’re late” means you are late. “I bought you a book and you’re going to love it” means I bought you a book and you are going to love it. Plain and simple.
In the end, the easiest trick you can use to figure out whether to use “your” or “you’re” is to extend the apostrophe and see whether “you are” fits. For example, “Is this you’re/your book?” – “is this you are book?” doesn’t sound too great, does it? Then you know it should be “your”. What about “Your/You’re really fast”? Well, first this sentence needs a verb and second, you can’t possess being fast. “You’re” is the correct option. Oh, and just in case you still have some doubts, after “thank you” it’s always, always, always, “you’re welcome” (you are welcome). You’re welcome.