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Your is almost universally used these days for you’re (“you are”). Is the misuse of your a result of ignorance, or is the contraction now formally dead?

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I think its bin caused buy spelling checkers. People think their isn't any reason to proof reed there work, since spelling checkers catch awl they're miss takes. –  Peter Shor Feb 7 '13 at 4:22
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It's far from universal and I certainly wouldn't hire anybody that didn't know the difference. –  Jim Feb 7 '13 at 4:23
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Ignorance is bliss for some. It's not a contraction at all. It's not likely to catch on for the same reason that we don't change the result for a small percentage of the population believes dividing by zero gives a zero answer. –  Chris Feb 7 '13 at 5:27
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2 Answers

Your is almost universally used these days for you're.

This is simply not true. A quick glance through newspapers, magazines, websites and other particularly current writing, finds many instances of you're.

It is true that your is sometimes written when one means you're.

A large number of these are mistakes rather than the result of ignorance or confusion; the wrong homophone is used when writing or typing quickly (I make these mistakes a lot, myself). As such, one word is not displacing the other in the writer's vocabulary; the writer's mind has it correct, but the typist made a mistake. One era's controversial grammatical choice may become a later era's standard usage, but not when those who are using it themselves see it as mistaken.

They're also complained about more than other infelicities. While frequency of complaints tells us nothing about the validity of the complaint, the fact that people will complain about it who would not complain about comma-splices, capitalisation mistakes, and other misspellings* reflects the fact that readers do find the incorrect use to be jarring. This too will prevent one displacing the other.

Nor is there anything new about this error. The same quality that makes it come from the pen of those who are perfectly aware of the distinction, means it has been happening for about as long as you're has been a common contraction of you are, and will continue until something does indeed change one or both of those words.

*I've even seen someone who was quite accepting of heavy use of "txtspk" abbreviations complain - quite without irony - that someone had used ur instead of u'r, though that example may be considered idiosyncratic in terms of where they draw their lines of acceptability

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The contraction is not dead, despite what Nietzsche may have argued. It is simple a misuse in written English. And some people may also just be writing too quickly and not proof their work. Rest assured, you’re is alive and well in the kingdom of the English tongue.

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