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When is it Correct to Use Their, They’re, or There?

"There" means that place, "their" is possessive pronoun, and "they're" is a contraction that combines they and are.



There vs. their vs. they’re

If it’s a trouble to explain the difference between these frequently mistaken homophones, they’re, their, and there, then stick around. Chances are, you may need to flex your grammar (with Grammarflex!)



There/their/they’re

Part of speechMeaningSentence example
Thereadverbin, at, or to that place or positionWe went to Paris and stayed there eleven days.
Theirpossessive pronounmeaning belonging to themSomeone left their purse on the bus. 
They’recontractionthey + areThey’re two of my favorite books. 



“There” means that place

There (pronounced the-hr) is an adverb of place meaning “in or at that place”. As in, “hey man, don’t go over there! Not that place!” Or, “why do we have to go there?” Where “there” is referring to is usually made clear from the context of the sentence.


Since ‘there’ refers to a place or location where something’s happening, a trick to remember its meaning is to associate it with the word “here“, since “there” shares the same spelling as “here“, (except for the “t”, of course).


  • There is also often used as a contraction with an apostrophe “s”, there’s.
  • There’s as a contraction can be either there + is or there + has:
  • There’s been a lot of snow this week (there + has); There’s food at home (there + is).

Hey man, don’t go over there!
There’s my phone!
There’s been a disturbance.

Sentence examples using “there”



“Their” indicates possession

Their is the possessive form of the pronoun “they“. Their indicates that whatever is mentioned (object, relationship) belongs to the person (sentence subject).

  • Because their is the possessive form of the third-person pronoun they, it describes belonging or possession to one or more persons.

I babysit their kids.

Their car is red.

I gave them their coats.

Sentence examples using “their”



“They’re” is a contraction (they + are)

They’re is a contraction of they + are = they’re. It’s the easiest of the bunch to get right since it’s simply a shorthand.


They’re here!

They’re my favorite band. 

They’re both good options.

Examples using “they’re” in sentences

Other examples of sentences with “there”

  • I put my phone over there.
  • Stay there! I will be right back!
  • Those men over there are some of the wealthiest in the industry.
  • There’s a fly in my spaghetti.
  • There are 24 spellers remaining in the Bee tournament.

‍Other examples of sentences with “their”

  • What is the difference between their cake and ours?
  • We’re their neighbours.
  • The trees are losing their leaves.
  • Look up their number in the phone directory.
  • She thanked the staff for their dedication and enthusiasm.

Other examples of sentences with “they’re”

  • They’re in possession of the most expensive fish tank in the world.
  • They’re about to introduce the new set of rules for recess.
  • They’re the cutest puppies ever!
  • They’re both in my class at school.
  • They’re having a problem with their car.

Other commonly used contractions

Image courtesy of author.

Origin of their/they’re/there

From Old Norse þierra “of them.”



In review

1. They’re: is a contraction (smush together two words, use an apostrophe) of they + are = they’re.

2. Their: is the possessive pronoun form of they, and signals that something belongs or is tied to someone.

3. There: is most often used as an adverb of place meaning ‘over there’ or ‘in that place.’

Read about other commonly confused words



Sources

  1. Their, they’re and there


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