Commonly Misspelled Homonyms

It’s and its, you’re and your, who’s and whose: All these words are short and distinct in meaning, but despite their seeming simplicity, they are often misspelled.  These word pairs are homonyms, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different definitions.  Sure, we know what we mean when saying these words, but spelling is a different story.  We’ve probably all experienced a glitch in our brain-to-fingertip connection at one time or another, and typed its when we mean it’s, or your for you’re.

In addition to being homonyms, each of these word pairs is made up of a contraction and a pronoun. A contraction is a combination of two words, or a shortened form of a word.  Don’t is a contraction for do not.  Every contraction contains an apostrophe, and the apostrophe takes the place of any missing letters.

Plainly put, a pronoun is word that replaces a noun or noun phrase.  She, he, I, they, it, you, and who are all pronouns.  Thanks to pronouns, we say things like “Suzy said she wants ice cream,” rather than “Suzy said Suzy wants ice cream.”  Nouns and pronouns are different in the way they show possession. While every possessive noun is noted with an apostrophe, most possessive pronouns do not include apostrophes.  If something belongs to Suzy, it’s Suzy’s, but if something belongs to her, it isn’t her’s, it’s hers.

Here are some brief definitions of these often-misspelled words, and a few examples of how to use them correctly.

its and it’s

Its means “belonging to it.”  Its is the possessive form of the pronoun it.

  • The dog wagged its tail.
  • The new store is open, but its sign isn’t up yet.

It’s is a contraction for “it is,” or less frequently, “it has.”

  • It’s so great to have you in town!
  • It’s a beautiful day.
  • I love my new car, but its sun roof is broken.  Since it’s been raining, it’s been a hassle to deal with.

whose and who’s

Whose is a pronoun meaning “belonging to who/whom.” “Whose jacket is this?” means “Who does this jacket belong to?” or “Who owns this jacket?

  • Whose car should we take to the movies?
  • I don’t know whose boots those are.

Who’s is a contraction for “who is,” or less frequently, “who has.”

  • Who’s going to the movies?
  • Who’s wearing my boots?

your and you’re

Your means “belonging to you.” Your is the possessive form of the pronoun you.  “Your scarf” means “The scarf belonging to you.”

  • Thank you for all of your help.
  • May I borrow your rain coat?

You’re is a contraction for “you are.”  “You’re welcome” means “You are welcome.”

  • You’re invited to my birthday party.
  • I know you’re going to have a great time in Spain.
  • If you’re available, I would really appreciate your help.

Even our bright and detail-oriented virtual receptionists make typing errors from time to time, which is why proofreading is the rule at Ruby.   We suggest you make a habit of it, too, and take special care with these same-sounding pairs.

Additional reads you may find interesting...

View All
Content marketing and social media tips: side view of photo editor working in a creative office
Small Business Tips

Content marketing & social media: 4 easy tips for getting started

A single pine tree on a rocky summit
Small Business Tips

Meeting customer expectations during a holiday season like no other

Person at desk in front of computer waiting on phone
Receptionist Tips

Have trouble handling the emotional weight of phone calls? You’re not alone.

Choosing a business number: overhead view of faded yellow vintage telephone with notebook and numbers on monochrome background
Small Business Tips

What your phone number says about your business

How to find and analyze your website traffic: two people look at a computer in a bright office space
Small Business Tips

How to find and analyze your website traffic

Using virtual receptionists for part-time answering - Ruby

Using virtual receptionists for part-time answering

What is a conversation worth: illustration of a confused person with complicated calculations hovering above their head
Small Business Tips

What is a conversation really worth? We calculated the exact dollar amount.

Top 3 legal marketing strategies for 2022: man looks at laptop
Legal Practice Tips

Top 3 legal marketing strategies for 2022

24/7 live chat: a Ruby chat specialist and a potential new client use computers in split screen with a live chat window between them
About Ruby

How Ruby’s 24/7 live chat solution grows your business and saves you time

Why empathy matters for your business: person listening to another person in cafe with laptop, papers, and coffee
Small Business Tips

Why empathy matters for your business

SEO and branding: star-crossed lovers—an illustration of two people with crowns surrounded by flowers
Small Business Tips

SEO and branding: star-crossed lovers

Title card: Authentic small business marketing with Jamie Adams of Scorpion

Ruby partner feature: Authentic small business marketing with Scorpion

Using chat as a sales tool: hands using laptop
Small Business Tips

4 ways to leverage live chat as a sales tool

How to attract more law firm leads: smiling woman in professional attire talks on phone while using laptop
Legal Practice Tips

Treading water? Here’s how to attract more law firm leads.

Needs-based selling: woman using laptop in well-lit office next to large window.
Small Business Tips

Needs-based selling 101

Try Ruby Risk Free

Call to talk to a live virtual receptionist and hear why 10,000+ companies Ruby.

Call Ruby Sign Up
Sales Support

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

Ready to turn more callers into customers?

Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.