There, their and they’re all sound the same. What’s the difference? There shows location (over there, I’m there for you) or introduces a subject (there are too many cars). Their indicates possession or connection (their house is huge). They’re is the short form of ‘they are’ (they’re always happy).
These words each have their uses in English, but their meanings are different. They’re homophones – meaning they all sound the same. However, their spellings are not the same! There are times when even native speakers mix them up when writing. They’re confusing. Let’s look at their meanings and the differences between them. These words are tricky, but we’ll get there!
There means: ‘to, at or in that place’.
When describing ‘location’, we can use there about physical and abstract locations.
There is also used to introduce the subject of a sentence. We often use it together with the words: be, seem, and appear.
Set expressions: over/out/under there, get there, there is/are, there you go/are, hi there, take it from there.
Examples with there in a sentence:
Sometimes punctuation can make a big difference to our word choice. Look at this example with their and they’re:
Their means: ‘belonging to them’.
Their is a possessive adjective, like his or her. It shows ownership or a connection to something.
Examples with their in a sentence:
Sometimes we can use their to talk about just one person or thing (singular). This may seem strange because usually their is the possessive adjective of ‘they’ (plural).
E.g. Someone forgot to turn off their phone at the cinema.
(unspecified person, we don’t know the gender so can’t use his/her)
They’re means: ‘they are’.
They’re is just a contraction (short form) of they are.
Examples with they’re in a sentence:
In some set expressions, we use ‘they are’ at the end of the sentence. However, we cannot use the contracted form they’re.
E.g. They don’t know how lucky they are! (not they’re)
Now try these exercises to test your understanding of the differences between there, their and they’re. Look back at the rules and examples above if you get confused!
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