As irritated as I am with the misuse of the possessive “your” in place of the contraction “you’re,” I’ve been hesitant to point it out publicly, knowing that by doing so, I am setting my own writing up for scrutiny that it may not be able to withstand. And yet, I’m finding that by holding my frustration in, my back molars are in danger of being ground down to nubbins. So, for the sake of my teeth, permit me to elaborate on what is probably a non-issue for most people.
Incorrectly typing your instead of you’re weakens a sentence and kills the credibility of the person who birthed it in the same way that some pioneer women’s weak uteruses caused them to perish in childbirth along the Oregon Trail.
It’s all about the contractions.
Let me explain.
Immediately following the birth of my first baby, the delivery room nurses had to rush to administer the contraction-inducing substance, Pitocin, to me intravenously. Even though I had made it through the painful process without painkillers or interventions, my exhausted uterus stopped generating contractions strong enough clamp down on the bleeding and deliver the placenta.
“You’d be one of those women who died in childbirth if this was a hundred years ago. There was no way to stop mothers from hemorrhaging back then,” the OB nurse announced as she adjusted my IV bag.
Grateful to have birthed my children in the twentieth century, I’ve thought a lot about that since. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of the tenacity of American pioneer women in the direst of circumstances. But then, those stories also led me to thinking about how some of those tough female bodies still housed weak uteruses. Uteruses that refused to generate contractions strong enough to prevent fatal hemorrhaging.
And so it is now with the way our refusal to use correct contractions is bleeding the credibility of our writing dry.
I’m aware that most of you do not share even an iota of my passion about the nasty misuse of your, but even if it’s just to validate your own disinterest in the subject, please review the following with me.
Your is a possessive pronoun. It indicates ownership.
Your coat, your house, your book.
You’re is a contraction. It represents a combination of the words “you” and “are.” As in all contractions, the apostrophe replaces the omitted letter.
You’re putting on your coat.
You’re walking into your house.
You are not your coat and you are not your house. Make sense?
In the same way that the simple administration of a few drops of a synthetic hormone reinvigorates an ineffective uterus, so does the simple insertion of a tiny apostrophe and an extra letter create a contraction strong enough to fully deliver your passionate point.
If you think I’m making too big a deal out of this, I challenge you do a possessive pronoun test. Since pronouns are most often substitutes for proper names, see how awkward the following sentence is when we substitute “Sally” for “your” in the following sentence:
Your wrong about climate change.
Sally wrong about climate change.
See what I mean? The person writing this sentence has reduced their credibility to the level of Tarzan. It’s subtle, but it still matters. Now, use the correct contraction and do the substitute test:
You’re wrong about climate change.
You are wrong about climate change.
Ah, that feels better, right? So then, no matter which side of the climate change debate you’re (contraction) on, people will see you as smart enough to state your (possessive pronoun) case. Tarzan would have been clueless about the intricacies of his warming jungle abode, but you’re not. The proper contraction swiftly delivered your point and will keep your credibility from dying along the wayside of your pioneering journey toward truth and respect.