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I was asked by a friend, the meaning of this sentence:

You had me at the proper use of you’re.

Unfortunately, I was unable to help her. Can anyone tell me: what does that sentence mean?

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    "You had me at" is a jocular way of "I was yours at the very moment you..", or "You had my heart at the moment..". The original was "You had me at 'hello'", meaning "I was in love with you from the moment I met you"; you didn't have to say anything more than "hello": I was immediately enchanted. Here, "the proper use of you're" is a snarky reference that many many people confuse the homonyms "you're" & "your" (i.e. use them improperly), so someone who used hem correctly is a very special, endearing, enchanting person indeed (to people who care about the proper use of English. – Dan Bron Sep 26 '15 at 16:07
  • Ohh this thing got into my mind: "I was in love with you or I liked you for your proper use of the word you're." Am I right? @DanBron – Parmod Siroha Sep 26 '15 at 16:12
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    Yes, that's right, but the joke contains a temporal element: "I was in love with your or liked you from the moment you used the word you're properly" (PS: let's be clear, it is a joke: no one actually falls in love with another for the proper choice of homonyms). – Dan Bron Sep 26 '15 at 16:17
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I am a little leery of offering no corroboration of my answer beyond the accident of my own birth, but several people have asked me today to post such answers, so here goes.

It's a joke. Fundamentally it's approbation of your correct use of (what many people find to be) difficult homonyms.

First: You had me at is a jocular way of saying I was yours at the very moment you.. or You possessed my heart at the moment..

The original was You had me at "hello", meaning I was in love with you from the moment I met you or you didn't have to say anything more than "hello": I was immediately enchanted.

Here, the proper use of you're is a snarky reference to the fact that many (many!) people confuse the homonyms you're & your (i.e. use them improperly), so someone who used them correctly is a very rare, special, endearing, enchanting person indeed (to people who care about the proper use of English.

  • I just had to comment on how ironic it is, after such a well written post, to end with "(to people who care about the proper use of English." ^^ – Camilo Martin Jul 8 '16 at 17:13
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    @CamiloMartin Surely you're aware of Muphry's Law (that name is not misspelled)? – Dan Bron Jul 8 '16 at 17:25
  • I didn't imagine there was even a name for it! Whoa. – Camilo Martin Jul 12 '16 at 22:22
  • (to people who care about the proper use of English. - you lost me when you didn't close the brackets. ;) – Nick Gammon Aug 21 '16 at 2:49
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    I was paraphrasing "you had me at ...". However I'll give you +1 for not editing the answer to add the bracket. :P – Nick Gammon Aug 21 '16 at 3:01
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The phrase "You had me at hello" became popular (at least in US) because of the movie Jerry Maguire. In this short clip at around 1min 30sec mark you can hear Renee Zellweger (Dorothy Boyd) say it to Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire).

So in the movie's context, I think it means that she already forgave/fell in love/like him a lot a lot when he entered her home and said hello. So even though she may of liked whatever he said after "hello" it was all unnecessary for them to become lovers again. Or something like that.

So when reading this phrase

You had me at the proper use of you’re.

I take it to mean that the person saying it was very pleased with the other person's great use of correct spelling. Instead of using "your" they used the correct word "you're"!

So it seems the speaker is saying that whatever else the other person said did not affect the outcome, hence using the proper form of "you're" was what won him/her over.

Without more context it's hard to say if it's a intimate relationship thing, friend thing, and a nice joke just reflecting off a popular phrase.

But in the very least, it probably just means the speaker was at least "happy" that they used "you're" correctly.

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    It isn’t just in amorous contexts; it can simply me that I was persuaded or convinced by such and such a word. I think you should add this – tchrist Sep 26 '15 at 18:47
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    @tchrist - Apparently, most of those hits on the ngram are for You had me at hello. For good examples of such-and-such, I'd suggest a simple Google search, which offers other interesting variants, some of which are phonetic ("You had me at cello"), some are just plain silly ("You had me at bacon"), and some are a little bit of both – like the t-shirt that reads, "You had me at merlot." – J.R. Sep 27 '15 at 8:54

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