There, Their, and They're

The Quick Answer
Confusing "there," "their," and "they're" is a serious mistake.
  • "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.

They're, Their, and There

You must not confuse "they're," "their," and "there." A mistake involving these is a grammatical howler.

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)

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

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.)

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 Wigan.
  • (Test: "I cannot believe they are from Wigan.")

  • 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. (Ronnie Shakes)
  • (Test: "I hope they are in August.")

  • Things are only impossible until they're not. (Jean-Luc Picard)
  • (Test: "Things are only impossible until they are not.")

Their

Their is used to show possession. It is like my, your, his, her, its, and our. These are called possessive adjectives (aka possessive determiners).

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. (Oscar Wilde)

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.
  • (specific place)

  • There is a good reason I'm not attending the party this year.
  • (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.")
Quick Test
 

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