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The English Language: Their/They're/There

Updated on April 2, 2013

Their/They're/There

Now, there there. *pat pat*

There are few things that get on my nerves more than seeing text messages or, worse, fan fiction, wherein the author has little-to-no understanding of how to use these nifty little words. They aren't even in the same part of speech!

But, I digress. See below for an explanation of these three frustrating words.

Their

This word is a pronoun. It is used to convey ownership. Below is proper usage of the word "their".

  • Bob and Sally like their car.

They're

This word is a contraction of the words "they" and "are". If you're having trouble deciding which of the three options to use, substitute "they are" for the word, and if the sentence still makes sense, you're probably on the right track.

  • They're going to the movies tomorrow.

There

This word is an adverb. As such, it is used to modify where a verb is taking place. Where are they building that new house? Over there.

  • There are many rules in the english language.

The Fancy Stuff

  • Their son called to tell us that they're going to be there soon.
  • Over there they're planning to build their new house.
  • They're looking for their missing plane tickets over there.

These sentences, of course, are only proper if "their", a pronoun, is defined in a previous sentence.

Also, keep in mind that these three are homonyms.

For more information about using pronouns properly, see the link to my article discussing the eight parts of speech, below.

For more information about homonyms and using them properly, see the link to my article discussing homonyms and homophones, below.

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    • Mouche profile image

      Mouche 5 years ago from Belgium

      Being a moderator on a Dutch writing site that publishes English translations provided by native speakers of Dutch I frequently encounter people mixing up there, they're and their.

      They should read this article!

    • Mrs. Obvious profile image

      Mrs. Obvious 8 years ago from Northern California

      I'm with you. I always felt this was a no-brainer.

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