While “our” and “are” sound very similar, these two words have completely different meanings. Knowing when to use "our" vs. "are" can save you an embarrassing grammar mistake and empower you to write with confidence.
When you’re speaking, it can sometimes be difficult for someone to tell whether you’re saying “are” or “our.” Depending on your exact pronunciation, these words can almost be homophones: they sound the same (or almost the same) but are spelled differently and have different meanings.
That spelling difference is important, however, as you can see in these definitions and the accompanying “are” vs. “our” sentence examples.
“Our” is a possessive pronoun. It means “belonging to us.” You’ll see this meaning when you look at how it works in a sentence:
- The teacher told us to open our books.
- We used our money to buy a new car.
- Our wedding was beautiful.
- We asked some friends to come over to our house.
- As a school, we do our best to meet the needs of every student.
- Is that our dog or your dog?
In contrast, “are” is a form of the irregular verb “to be.” It is in present tense, which means the action is happening right now. You can use it with the pronoun “you” or when talking directly to a subject. You can also use it with plural subjects or pronouns that indicate there is more than one of something.
Here’s how “are” fits in a sentence:
- We are driving to visit a friend.
- They are all six years old.
- You are my best friend.
- The dog and cat are fighting again.
- We are going to win the band contest this year.
- How are you doing?
There are two key differences between “are” and “our” that can help you understand which one to use in any situation. Each one has a trick or hack to help.
“Our” is possessive, which means it shows ownership. “Are” does not. If you need a hack to help you remember, both “our” and “owner” start with a letter O.
“Are” is a verb, and “our” is not. If you are writing about someone doing or being something, you should be using “are.” “Are” is actually an auxiliary verb or a helping verb that adds to the meaning of another verb. A great trick is to remember that “are” and “auxiliary” both start with the letter A.
Now that you know the tricks and definitions, it’s time to test your knowledge. See if you can pick the correct word for these sentences. The answers are at the end of this article.
- _____ cat is bigger than your cat.
- They _____ going to get in trouble if they keep yelling.
- We ___ going to visit ___ grandmother in Texas.
- The teacher told us to wear _____ t-shirts on the field trip.
- When we get _____ grades back, I’m going to show my parents.
- Who ______ the first three presidents of the United States?
- _____ you feeling better now?
- If ______ dad lets us, we want to visit you at your house.
- ___ you going to give us ___ pencils back?
- You _____ the best teacher I’ve ever had.
Even though “are” and “our” almost sound the same, they are not interchangeable. Which one you use matters. These commonly misused words affect how people see your writing, so it’s important to know the correct choice if you want to appear confident and competent.
Quiz Answers: 1. Our, 2. are, 3. are, our, 4. our, 5. our, 6. are, 7. Are, 8. our, 9. Are, our, 10. are