Commonly Mistaken Words: Its/It’s, Your/You’re, Their/They’re, and Whose/Who’s

asian woman confused122576781We live in a world where we drive on parkway and park on driveways so it should come as no surprise that English is a confusing language. Fortunately, we are here to help with a few tips that should help clear up some of the mystery around a few of the most easily confused words in English: Its/It’s, Your/You’re, Their/They’re, and Whose/Who’s

Though it may seem confusing, you can prevent yourself from confusing one for the other by remembering this simple rule: an apostrophe (the ‘ symbol) with a pronoun – as in it’s – always means it is replacing a missing letter in a contraction.


“It’s” should never be used in the same place as its similar sounding cousin “Its” – which, as this exact sentence shows, is used to show possession. After all, you would never say “the dog lost it is bone” not only because it sounds silly but also because in that example the bone belongs to (is “possessed by”) the dog and we should therefore use the possessive pronoun.

Your/You’re and Their/They’re

All of the other possessive pronouns are spelled without an apostrophe – consider mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and so on – so it only makes sense that its follows the same rule. At the same time, this simple rule helps us to understand some of the most easily confused words in English. Following this same reasoning, we can see that you’re literally means “you are” – you would never say “You are brother is nice” when we meant “Your” – and, likewise, they’re always means “they are.”*


Finally, “who’s” is also a contraction – one that means who is or who has – while “whose” is another possessive pronoun (as it, “Whose car is that?”). So, in the end, you can see that it’s as easy as pie to prove you’re an English champ!

* Confusion around the word “there” is easy to clear up for deferent reasons: it is related to the word “here” and always refers to position, no matter how similar it sounds!

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