Word Choice: You, Yew or Ewe?
  • 3-minute read
  • 20th December 2020

Word Choice: You, Yew or Ewe?

The words “you,” “yew,” and “ewe” all sound the same, but they mean entirely different things! If you’re not sure which spelling to use in your writing, check out our advice on what all three terms mean below.

You (Pronoun)

The word “you” is a second-person pronoun (i.e., a word that stands in for another word). It refers to the person or people whom a speaker or author is addressing in a sentence. This could be one person:

You look lovely in that dress.

Or it can refer to more than one person as a plural pronoun:

You are all invited to my party!

In both these examples, “you” refers to particular people. But it can also mean “people in general,” especially in less formal writing:

In the UK, you need to be 18 before you can buy alcohol.

You get used to things as you get older.

This is also the most common of the three words we’re looking at here.

Yew (Tree)

A “yew” is a type of evergreen tree:

The ancient yew stood at the entrance to the church.

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The word “yew” can also refer to wood from this species of tree:

The chest was made from varnished yew.

Yew trees have dark, needle-shaped leaves and produce red berry-like fruits. They can also be very long-lived – one tree in Scotland is thought to be up to 9,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living things in Europe!

Yew 'berries'.
Yew “berries” are poisonous, though, so no tasting!
(Photo: Alexas_Fotos)

Ewe (Female Sheep)

The word “ewe” refers to an adult female sheep:

The farmer gathered the ewes and their lambs into the barn.

An adult male sheep, on the other hand, is a “ram.”

A sheep.
Who are “ewe” looking at?
(Photo: manfredrichter)

Summary: You, Yew or Ewe?

Although they sound the same, these three words have different spellings and different meanings. Keep the following in mind:

  • You is a second-person pronoun.
  • A yew is a type of evergreen tree.
  • A ewe is a female adult sheep.

The most common (and therefore most important) word here is “you,” which refers to the person or persons a speaker or author is addressing (i.e., the listener[s] or reader[s]). To remember that this term is a pronoun, think of the phrase “you and us” (one pronoun ends in “u” and the other begins with “u”).

Spelling can be tricky, though, so if you’d like some expert assistance to make sure your work is free from mistakes, we can help! Why not upload a sample document and try out our proofreading service for free?

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