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Commonly Confused

There was / there were - test 2. There was / there were - past. There was / were - exercises. It is / there is / there was -were. There was or there were? There is / are / was / were. There was / there were. There is / there were / there will be. There is / there was / has been. There S Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say. Download and Read online There S Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say ebooks in PDF, epub, Tuebl Mobi, Kindle Book. Get Free There S Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say Textbook and unlimited access to our library by created an account. Fast Download speed and ads Free!

What to Know

Their, there, and they're are all pronounced the same way. Their is the possessive pronoun, as in 'their car is red'; there is used as an adjective, 'he is always there for me,' a noun, 'get away from there,' and, chiefly, an adverb, 'stop right there'; they're is a contraction of 'they are,' as in 'they're getting married.'

Homophones — words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings — can be tricky. There are three in particular that commonly confuse people. They're very tricky, in part because of their usefulness, which means that we call on them over and over in our writing here and there.

There's no need to confuse there, they're, and their. While they're not an easy group of words, with practice you can master their distinctions.

'There' Usage

And we'll start there. That one has the word here in it, which is helpful. It can remind us that this particular there is often about location:

There it is.
Put it there.
Stay there.
We'll be there soon.

It's about location in the more abstract sense too:

There you go.
There is where we disagree.
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It's also the one to use as the first word in sentences that have the subject after the verb:

There is a nice hotel in the town.

And it's the one used with the verb be at the beginning of sentences and questions:

There are plenty available.
Is there a hotel in the town?

The other two are trickier because they both have the idea of the plural in them. They key is discerning between the contraction for 'they are' (they're) and the possessive of 'belonging to them' (their).

'They're' Usage

They're is a contraction that means 'they are.' You can remember that apostrophes indicate the possessive only when used of 's, such as 'the writer's thoughts.' Otherwise, it's generally a contraction of two words, as in can't = cannot, or won't = will not, or an omission of a letter or letters, as in singin' for singing and 'em for them in stick it to 'em.

They're (=they are) funny people.
They're (=they are) the cutest puppies ever.

It can be used of non-living things too:

They're (=they are) both really good books.
They're (=they are) two of our biggest problems.

'Their' Usage

The last of this trio, their, is the possessive form of they, so it has to do with what belongs to, relates to, or is made or done by certain people, animals, or things:

It's their house.
We're their neighbors.
The trees are losing their leaves.

Their also has a long history of being used as a singular pronoun. Associate Editor Emily Brewster explains its usage in this video.

And there you go. They're not an easy group of words, but with practice we know you can master their distinctions.

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In summary:There is the most common. It has the word here in it, which is helpful because it's often about location. They're always means 'they are.' Their is the possessive form of they.

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There, Their, or They're?

What is the difference between 'there,' 'their,' and 'they're'?
  • 'They're' is short for 'they are.'
  • 'Their' shows possession. (It's just like 'my,' 'his,' 'her,' and 'our.')
  • 'There' is a place. It's similar to 'here.'

More about 'They're,' 'Their,' and 'There'

Do not confuse 'they're,' 'their,' and 'there.' A mistake involving these is a grammatical howler. If you confuse these words too often, your credibility is at risk.
See more common grammar errors listed by their seriousness.

Infographic

Here is an infographic explaining the difference between they're,' 'their,' and 'there.'

Got it? Take a quick test.

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game)

Getting ready..
Getting ready..
Getting ready..
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Getting ready..
Getting ready..

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A Video Summary

Here is a 5-minute video summarizing this lesson on 'there,' 'their,' and 'they're.'

More about 'They're'

'They're' is a contraction of 'they are.'
There are two types of contraction:
  • A shortened version of a word (e.g., 'cannot' contracts to 'can't')
  • One word formed from two words (e.g., 'they are' contracts to 'they're')
Both types of contraction feature apostrophes. In the contraction 'they're,' the apostrophe replaces the letter 'a' and the two words are merged into one.) There's Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say PDF Free Download
Top Tip

Only use 'they're' if you can substitute it with 'they are.'

Example Sentences with 'They're'

  • They're not leaving on Saturday now.
  • (Do the expansion test: 'They are not leaving on Saturday now.')
  • I cannot believe they're from Boston.
  • (Test: 'I cannot believe they are from Boston.')
  • More than 20 people left they're coats in the cloakroom.
  • (Test: 'More than 20 people left they are coats in the cloakroom.'
    This is nonsense. Therefore, 'they're' is wrong.)

Making a there/their/they're mistake can undermine your credibility. How would you react to this office sign? (It should be 'their' not 'they're.')
  • My doctor gave me two weeks to live. I hope they're in August. (Comedian Ronnie Shakes)
  • (Test: 'I hope they are in August.')
  • Things are only impossible until they're not. (Captain Jean-Luc Picard)
  • (Test: 'Things are only impossible until they are not.')

More about 'Their'

'Their' is used to show possession. It is like 'my,' 'your,' 'his,' 'her,' 'its,' and 'our.' These are called possessive determiners ('possessive adjectives' in traditional grammar).
Top Trick

Here is a little trick to test whether 'their' is correct:
Use the word 'our' instead of 'their.' If the sentence still makes sense, then 'their' is almost certainly correct. This trick works because 'our' and 'their' are both possessive determiners used for plurals.

Example Sentences with 'Their'

  • Can you show the guests to their cabins?
  • (Test: 'Can you show the guests to our cabins?'
    This sounds okay. Therefore, 'their' is correct.)
  • I have seen their footprints before.
  • (Test: 'I have seen our footprints before.'
    This sounds okay. Therefore, 'their' is correct.)
  • Their all leaving.
  • (Test: 'Our all leaving.'
    This is nonsense. Therefore, 'their' is wrong. It should be 'They're.')
  • Their less likely to cause offence.
  • (Test: 'Our less likely to cause offence.'
    This is nonsense. Therefore, 'their' is wrong. It should be 'They're.')
  • Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
They

More about 'There'

The word 'there' is similar to the word 'here' in that it represents a place. ('There' and 'here' are adverbs of place).
'There' has two uses:
There(Use 1) It is used to denote a specific place.
  • She is there.

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(Use 2) It is used to denote that something exists.
  • There are two apples.

Some More Example Sentences with 'There'

  • The Germans are over there.
  • (Here, 'there' is a specific place.)
  • There is a good reason I'm not attending the party this year.
  • (In this example, it means 'a reason exists.')
Here is an example featuring 'they're,' 'their,' and 'there.'
  • Simon repeated himself: 'They're unqualified, and their opinions counted for nothing while they were their.'
  • (The last 'their' should be 'there' as it denotes a specific place. It could have been replaced with 'here.')
Ready for the Test?
Here is a confirmatory test for this lesson.
This test can also be:
  • Edited (i.e., you can delete questions and play with the order of the questions).
  • Printed to create a handout.
  • Sent electronically to friends or students.
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See Also

There Denim India

adverse or averse?affect or effect?appraise or apprise?avenge or revenge?bare or bear?complement or compliment?dependant or dependent?discreet or discrete?disinterested or uninterested?e.g. or i.e.?envy or jealousy?imply or infer?its or it's?material or materiel?poisonous or venomous?practice or practise?principal or principle?tenant or tenet?who's or whose?What are adverbs?What are adjectives?Apostrophes replace lettersList of easily confused words