There, Their, They’re

By Sharon

When two words sound alike (known as homonyms), it ‘s easy to think they mean the same thing. English being what it is, they usually don’t and it’s important to get them right so you say exactly what you mean.

For example, what’s the difference between their, there and they’re? The three are often mixed up when writing, because they sound exactly the same. However, the meanings of these three words couldn’t be more different.

Their
Let’s start with their. It’s the possessive form of they, which means it is used to show ownership or belonging. If something belongs to them, it is their item.

Example: Michael and Lola left their car at home as it was a fine night.

There

If you are talking about a place or location, then you need the word ‘there. This word indicates where something goes or where something is.

Example: Michael dropped his coat on the floor. Lola said: “Don’t put it there, Michael. Hang it on a hook.”

They’re

Finally, they’re is a contraction of they are, with the apostrophe showing where the letter a has been left out. If you sound it out in full in the sentence and it sounds right, then you’ve got the right one. Otherwise, it must be one of the other two.

Example: “Where are my parents meeting us?” asked Lola. “They’re meeting us at the restaurant,” said Michael.

Putting It All Together

Once you have these three straight, then you can easily make sense of a sentence like this:

“Their car is being repaired, so they’re taking a cab to get there,” said Michael.

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10 Responses to “There, Their, They’re”

  • Daniel

    Looks like a stupid mistake, but it is not rare to see it around the Internet. Good one.

  • Sharon

    I used to see it a lot offline as well, Daniel, when I worked in magazines. English is full of traps for the unwary, isn’t it?

  • Brian Humphrey

    If there, their, they’re is one thing I need help with…

    …thanks for the blog, which will be at the top of my feed list.

    Brian Humphrey

  • Ed Butts

    And yet, there are still people who insist that knowing these fine points of grammar and spelling is not necessary. Good posting!

  • Sharon

    Thanks, Ed; nice to see you here. It’s amazing how much potential there is for confusion.

  • Mariam

    This really helped me when I was during my homework. Is good.

  • Kt

    What about a question, like “How many are there?” Which “there, their” is correct?

  • Susan

    “For example, what’s the difference between their, there and they’re? The three are often mixed up when writing, because they sound exactly the same.”

    In some parts of Scotland there are subtle but distinct differences in the pronounciation of these three words which helps avoid confusion.

  • Amy

    Homonyms words that are spelt the same, but have different meanings.
    For example:
    “I took a moment to smell the beautiful rose.”
    vs.
    “I rose to the challenge.”

    Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different meanings.
    For example: their, they’re, there; too, two, to; break, brake; etc.

  • Par

    Practice makes perfect. Just study the words There, Their and They’re.

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