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Commonly Confusing Misspelled Homophones - Your/You're, Its/It's, To/Too, and More

Updated on December 9, 2015

What is a Homophone?

A homophone is a word that sounds like another word (or words) but is spelled differently. When spoken aloud, the hearer knows no difference, but when written the difference is obvious. We will look at five sets of the most commonly misspelled homophones. Four out of the five we review involve apostrophes. Learning how apostrophes are used basically for either contractions or possession should help you to avoid the common errors discussed in this article.

It's always helpful to have a grammar handbook to look up rules when you're in doubt.
It's always helpful to have a grammar handbook to look up rules when you're in doubt. | Source

Your vs. You're

Think about what the “re” stands for in “you’re.” The “re” is short for “are,” right? In this case, the apostrophe is used to contract two words together: "you" and "are." On the other hand, “your” is simply a possessive pronoun. I sometimes see written, “Your welcome” instead of “You’re welcome.” Remember that the phrase means that “you are welcome” rather than that you possess a welcome!

Correct Usage Examples:

Your wish is my command. (shows possession)

Do you think you’re going to the game? (contraction: you are)


Their, There, and They're

“They’re” is in the same category as “you’re.” Both words are contractions, a combination of two words. When in doubt, check to see if "they are" makes sense in the sentence. If it does not, then try the other two options.

“Their” is a possessive pronoun, as is “your," which we just looked at.

“There” refers to a place.Think of the places "here" and "there." "There" is "here" with a "t" added to it. Remember it that way.

Let’s look at the correct ways to use each word:

They’re at school right now but will be home later. (contraction: they are)

Have you seen their new car? (shows possession)

I think that the church is over there near the hospital. (location)


Its vs. It's

These two words are perhaps the most commonly miswritten homophones. There are two important things to remember when trying to decide which word to use. First, are you using a contraction of two words? Only if you wish to convey “it is" would you use the contraction “it’s.”

Use “its” without the apostrophe only for possession. But wait? Doesn’t possession require an apostrophe? Well, nouns do require an apostrophe to show possession, as in “the neighbor’s house.” But possessive pronouns are already possessive and do not need an apostrophe. Consider the pronoun we already discussed: “your.” Do we say “you’r dog”? No. We say “your dog” to show possession--without an apostrophe.

Consider the following possessive pronouns: your, his, hers, ours, theirs. Think about how funny they would look with an apostrophe to show possession. You’r purse? Hi's wallet? Or is it hers? Although “its” is, undoubtedly, more confusing because it can be confused with the contraction “it’s,” this possessive pronoun, like the pronoun family it belongs to, also shows possession without the use of the apostrophe.

Correct ways to use “its” vs. “it’s":

The cat licked its tail. (shows possession)

It’s probably going to rain later today. (contraction: It is)


Who's vs. Whose?

The easiest way to remember which word to use in this case is to ask yourself if the word you need is a contraction. Could the word you choose be replaced with “Who is”?

Let’s try it. Fill in the following blank.

____________ going to the game with me?

The correct answer is “Who’s” since “Who’s” could be replaced with “Who is.”

Whose is used when no contraction is needed.

Example: I would like to know whose silly idea this was! Since you couldn’t replace “whose” with “who is” in that sentence, the correct choice is “whose.”


To, Too, and Two

Finally, “to” versus “too.” I include “two” since it also sounds the same, but I rarely see it confused with the other two words. “Two” is simply the number 2. Let’s move on to the more difficult “to” and “too.”

A way to remember when to use “too” is to keep in mind that “too” has an extra “o” in the word. “Too,” then, is used when something is superlative, or “too" much.

Example: I have too much time on my hands. (Note the extra "o," meaning more)

“Too,” with the extra “o,” is used, too, in the same way that "also" is. Both are used when there is something extra, such as in the example: “I would like to go, too," or "I would like to go, also."

“To” is simply a preposition that indicates movement toward something. Remembering that “to” is a part of the word “toward” might be helpful, too, as their meanings are similar.

Correct Usages: Are they going to the meeting? I would like to go, too.



Using Homophones in Sentences

I heard that you’re going to the party in your own car. I don’t care whose car I ride in; my car is on its last leg. I don’t know who’s going to be there, either. The hosts sent their invitations early, and I think they’re expecting us to show up by 7:00. It’s 5:30 right now, a little too early to go. I have two parties to go to tonight, too!

September 2011 Grammar Geek

Quiz: Choose the correct answer.


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© 2011 Victoria Lynn

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    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      arb, I love your comment! So funny. Not the brightest banana in the bunch--LOL! Well, I'm glad this hub is helpful for...your friends who might need it! :-)

    • arb profile image

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      Loved the article, however, to confess that I may have gleaned any knowledge from it, would implicate me, myself and I, as being guilty of some of the grammatical crimes that you have alluded to. That I have chosen to bookmark such a page, make no mistake, is not for any future reference, but, simply to see if any of my guilty friends have been here. I'm not the brightess banana in the bunch, but, reading this, simply confirms such assertation! At my age, a proof reader would extend my time on earth.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      No problem, vocalcoach. You are so welcome!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I would be happy to and thanks for proofing mine!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You're welcome, gail!!!

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Thanks.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      gail641--Well, the cat is very sweet-looking! :-)

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      The picture of the cat is my cat: Bessie. She's about 10 years old. I have another cat that is 5 years old. Her name is Sasha. My neice brought her over, because her dogs were attacking the cat. The quiz was very enjoyable and lots of fun to take. Your welcome and thanks, too.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      diamond1mo--Glad you liked the hub! Actually, "who's" is an accepted standard contraction, just as "who'll" and "who'd" are. Perhaps "who's" isn't as pure a contraction as "you're" or "it's," but, I don't know, it has the same parts of speech as those. Of course, it's informal, and I wouldn't use it in formal writing, as I wouldn't use most contractions. Thanks for the input. And the link!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      gail--Glad you liked the hub and did great on the quiz!!!! I love the pic of the cat, too. Looks like my old Prince Albert, another inspiration for hubs!

    • diamond1mo profile image

      KE Morgan 5 years ago from Arizona

      I loved it- but "who's" is incorrect. There is not a conjunction for who is. I still linked to your homophone page.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      I enjoyed your hub, it was very educational. I took the quiz and did okay. (100%). It is so much fun to take the quiz and learn. It is so easy to make mistakes in English with words like there, their, and they're, and the other words, too.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      lalesu--The period goes inside the quotation marks, but there are exceptions such as when citing material with parenthetical citations. That's a whole other story. haha. Good to see you here! Thanks for the comments. Glad you thought the hub was fun!!! :-)

    • lalesu profile image

      lalesu 5 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      Fun, fun hub, Victoria Lynn. I must admit I make use of these same reminders every time I write "it's/its" and who's/whose". Now if I can just remember is the period goes before or after the quotation mark, lol!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Good job on the quiz, PK2010. Yeah, people don't pay much attention to their grammar, I agree. I'm glad you appreciated the hub! Thanks for the vote up!

    • PK2010 profile image

      Anthea Kwaw 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yaay! I scored 10 out of 10 in the quiz and I'm very pleased because I am an advocate for correct use of grammar myself. I really love this hub. People don't pay attention to written grammar anymore, they say words however purely because society has become a rundown place against everything that matters. People are so busy chasing money that nothing else matters - how we talk, how we act...Thanks for this hub. Another common mistake people make is correctly using the whether and not weather. Loved it. Voted up!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You're welcome, vocalcoach--and thank you! I like doing the quizzes, too. I'm sure I'll have many more grammar hubs. Since you invited me to do so, I'll message you if I see a mistake in your writing. Would you do the same for me? I cringe when I go back and see an error in my writing. Thanks for the great comments!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I can't thank you enough for writing this much needed hub! I agree with Daisy. This should be required reading for all new hubbers. Adding the test was brilliant. I am eager to read your next hub on this subject. I appreciate what I have learned from you and invite you to correct me whenever you see a mistake. You are a magnificent teacher! Very easy to vote up on this.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I agree, Daisy. I chose these pairs because they are some of the most common ones. They are used often and often used incorrectly. haha. Thanks for commenting!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      This Hub should be required reading for all new Hubbers.

      Thanks for publishing this article.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Just trying to make our site stronger...!!!!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I'm re-sharing this article, because I continue to see these basic errors being made, even among my great hub writer colleagues. So, if you need to review, please review! :-)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You're right, Patricia! There are so many. The list goes on and on and on....

    • profile image

      Patricia Bean 5 years ago

      "I" and "Eye"; "I'll" and "Isle"; "Great" and "Grate"; "Waste" and "Waiste"; "Which" and "Witch"; "You" and "Yew"; "Whole" and "Hole"; etc. ad infinitum the end.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Could be, Pete! haha

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      Pete Moss 5 years ago

      If I had two phones and they looked exactly the alike, would they be homophones?

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      hahaha Very funny, Vito....

      Great to see you, Epi. Glad you like the grammar series. And thanks for the good wishes!

    • profile image

      Vito Armbuster 5 years ago

      WHO YOU CALLING A HOMOPHOBE!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ....thanks for the education and the enlightenment as always - and your hub series here on grammar and proper english is a must and essential for any hub writer

      lake erie time ontario canada 7:04am I sincerely hope all is well for you these days .......

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      What are you asking, newday? If correct word choice is the purpose of the article? I didn't quite understand. Sorry.

      femmeflashpoint--I'm glad you appreciate the lesson!

      Cloverleaf--You're perfect on your use of "you're" and "your." :-)

      ktrapp--Yes, I have seen its' used. I may revise the hub to add that one. Are and our are (haha) a good idea, too. I plan to do more on homophones; there are so many out there--or almost homophones. Are and our don't sound exactly like, kind of like quite and quiet, which are also often confused. I have lots of ideas for more grammar hubs. I like doing them. I just hope they're helpful. Thanks for your comments!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      I was waiting for this hub. I was helping my daughter prepare for the ACT exam last year and in one of the books it said that sometimes answer choices on the test will be it's, its, or its'. Of course, it said that the last one is never correct, but I wonder if people use that misspelling, as well.

      If you do another one of these, you should include are and our. I see that mixed up a lot!

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Oh Victoria Lynn, you're so great to share your grammar tips in your hubs, I'm going to see that you're rewarded by a big VOTE UP! (Did I do it right?)

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 6 years ago

      Victoria Lynn - LOL! Very good! I was just talking with my cousin last night about this very thing.

      A whole lot of us failed to join the grammar-police squad. Thankfully, Micro-word is great for capture and correct. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't know it on our own and endeavor to employ it correctly.

      Good article!

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      newday98033 6 years ago

      Correct choice of words it the entire content of your article. Isn't it?

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Diction refers to vocabulary choice and speaking styles, and has nothing to do with correct choice of words that this hub covers. I'm not sure, newday, if your comment is meant to be serious, sarcastic, or funny, but, at any rate, I do appreciate your taking the time to read my article.

    • profile image

      newday98033 6 years ago

      It's not Youse to decide Whoose Dickshun ist admirable. Its youze to dooze or dize.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Yea! Yay! haha. I've seen that word spelled both ways, but I think "yea" is correct. :-)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      You got it ... That's what friends are for :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You opened the door, Sunshine! haha. Feel free to correct mine, too. It would be embarrassing to write grammar hubs that have errors. Yikes!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Then grammar geek you shall be...feel free to correct my typos at anytime! xo

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      100%! Awesome, Sunshine. I'm glad you think it's a good idea. I'll be the Grammar Geek of the bunch. I hope it doesn't ruin my reputation. haha. I don't care. I can't help it. I love grammar!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      It was more fun because I got them all correct! Fantastic idea for a hub series! We could all use a refresher course now and then! :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, guys!

      RTalloni--I plan to do more teaching (grammar) hubs!

      anjperex, Cutters, and Sunshine. Glad you took the quiz!

      I do plan to do more Sunshine. More grammar hubs and more quizzes! I love it that you said it was fun!! :-)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Woohoo I scored a 100%!! That was fun! Let's do it again! More quizzes, please :)

    • Cutters profile image

      Cutters 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Oh boy it is a good thing I have someone to proof read my stuff. I suck lol. Love the quiz good job.

    • anjperez profile image

      anjperez 6 years ago

      took the quiz... i made it... (,")

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Word lovers will enjoy your quiz!

      You are right, reviewing these words is a good thing. It's also a good thing to write hubs that teach! :)