There, Their, or They're?

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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."
there their they're

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game)

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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.)
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)

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:

(Use 1) It is used to denote a specific place.
  • She is there.
(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.

See Also

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 letters List of easily confused words