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Grammar Repair Shop: Contraction infractions

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in Workplace Communication

Even the best writers slip up when it comes to these easily confused homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings):
  • who’s/whose.
  • you’re/your.
  • they’re/their.
 In each of those word pairs, one is a contraction and the other is a possessive pronoun. Each contraction really represents two words. Example: “Who’s” means “who is” or “who has”; “you’re” means “you are”; and “they’re” means “they are.”

To avoid contraction confusion, use this tactic as you proofread documents: When you come across one of these words, read it as if it were a contraction broken down into two words. That way, you can tell whether you’ve picked the right word.


“If you’re coming to the meeting, please reply by 12/15.”

If you are coming to the meeting makes sense, so a contraction is needed. The sentence is correct as is.

Your doing a wonderful job so far.”

You are doing a wonderful job makes sense, so a contraction is needed. Replace “your” with “you’re.”

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