Sev­en lit­tle words seem to be the most dif­fi­cult to under­stand among Eng­lish speak­ers online. It seems point­less to even write this blog post because count­less oth­ers already have. As I thought about it, how­ev­er, I real­ized my dif­fer­ence between series would remain incom­plete with­out them.

Here are the 7 words that keep con­fus­ing the Inter­net:

  • Your
  • You’re
  • There
  • Their
  • They’re
  • Its
  • It’s

And here they are suc­cinct­ly explained:

Your vs. you’re

The easy way to remem­ber the dif­fer­ence is that the apos­tro­phe is a clue that you’re is actu­al­ly two words: you are.

  1. Use your to talk about some­thing owned: your car, your hot pep­per, your kind­ness
  2. Use you’re to talk about some­one: You’re cute. You’re a great guy. You’re amaz­ing.

There vs. their vs. they’re

There’s that apos­tro­phe again, so they’re is easy enough to dis­tin­guish, but there are two oth­ers remain­ing this time. The trick to remem­ber­ing there is that there looks like here, and they mean sim­i­lar things.

  1. Use there to refer to a loca­tion: I would not eat them here or there. I would not eat them any­where.
  2. Use their to talk about some­thing owned: their car, their hot pep­per, their kind­ness
  3. Use they’re (they are) to talk about some­one: They’re cute. They’re great guys. They’re amaz­ing.

Its vs. it’s

That apos­tro­phe keeps pop­ping up. Per­haps there’s a pat­tern here.

  1. Use its to talk about some­thing owned: its car, its hot pep­per, its kind­ness
  2. Use it’s to talk about some­thing: It’s hot out­side. It’s a fan­tas­tic restau­rant. It’s all up in your face.

That’s it. Easy as pie.

What words con­fuse you the most? Com­ment below, and we may fea­ture them in a future blog post.


About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness. Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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