There, Their, or They're?

What Is the Difference between "There," "Their," and "They're"?

"There," "their," and "they're" sound similar, but they have very different meanings. It is important to understand the difference between these words because using the wrong one is considered a basic mistake.

"There" is a place.

  • I live there. correct tick
  • There are lots of shops. correct tick
"There" is like "here," which is also a place. This is easy to remember because "there" contains the word "here."

"Their" is for possession.

  • I understand their argument. correct tick
"Their" is just like "my," "his," "her," and "our," which are also used to show possession.

"They're" is short for "they are."

  • Where are the rabbits? They're near the tree. correct tick
If you cannot expand it to "they are," then you shouldn't be using "they're."

Its Your Go!

Select the right one to fill the gap.
there their they're

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

"There," "their," and "they're" are common words, and your readers will expect you to use the right one.


"They're" is a contraction of "they are." It can always be expanded to "they are." This is a 100% rule!

Example sentences with "they're":

  • They're not leaving on Saturday now. correct tick
  • (Do the expansion test: "They are not leaving on Saturday now.")
  • I cannot believe they're from Boston. correct tick
  • (Test: "I cannot believe they are from Boston.")
  • More than 20 people left they're coats in the cloakroom. wrong cross
  • (Test: "More than 20 people left they are coats in the cloakroom." This is nonsense. Therefore, "they're" is wrong.)
  • My doctor gave me two weeks to live. I hope they're in August. correct tick (Comedian Ronnie Shakes)
  • (Test: "I hope they are in August.")
  • Things are only impossible until they're not. correct tick (Captain Jean-Luc Picard)
  • (Test: "Things are only impossible until they are not.")

Understand the Grammar

"They're" is a contraction. 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.)

Remember that a mistake involving one of these words presents a risk to your credibility as a writer. How would you react to this office sign? (It should be "their" not "they're.")


"Their" is for possession. It is like "my," "your," "his," "her," "its," and "our." These are called possessive determiners ("possessive adjectives" in traditional grammar).

Example sentences with "their":

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

Top Trick (Use The "Our" Test)

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 correct. This trick works because "our" and "their" are both possessive determiners used for plurals.


"There" is like "here" because it represents a place. ("There" and "here" are both adverbs of place.) "There" has two uses:

(1) It means a specific place.

  • She is there. correct tick

(2) It means that something exists.

  • There are two apples. correct tick

More example sentences with "there":

  • The Germans are over there. correct tick
  • (In this example, "there" is a specific place.)
  • There is a good reason I'm not attending the party this year. correct tick
  • (In this example, it means "a good reason exists.")

Ready for All 3?

Here is an example with "they're," "their," and "there."
  • They're unqualified, and their opinions were worthless while they were there. correct tick

A Video Summary

This 5-minute video summarizes "there," "their," and "they're." video lesson

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.