There, their, and they’re. Three of the most confusing words in the English language. They’re known as homophones. There are many homophones and while their spellings and meaning can be different, their pronunciation is the same. See what I just did there? You see, these three words can be easily confused with one another, but the difference between them is quite a simple concept to grasp.
They’re is a contraction, it is a combination of the words they and are. An example of the correct way to use they’re is as follows:
- They’re unlike any family I have ever met.
You know this is correct because if you inserted the words “they are” into the sentence it would make perfect sense.
Their is a plural possessive pronoun. You would insert this when the subject you are writing about belongs to someone or something. An example of a correct way to use their is as follows:
- The Johnson family had three cars, but their cars were unique because they could turn invisible.
This is correct because it shows possession of the belonging.
There can be used as both a pronoun and an adverb. This means that there can introduce or address a subject or thing or it can be used to express a relation of space. In simpler terms, there is the opposite of here. Two examples of a correct way to use there is as follows:
- There are many events in debate.
- Go there to purchase the bracelet.
These are correct because they are used as pronouns and adverbs in the sentences.
A way to know which one to use is to insert each into a sentence and see which works best.
1. They ate they’re dinner quietly.
2. They ate their dinner quietly.
3. They ate there dinner quietly.
Which is correct?
If you guessed 2 you are right! 2 is the proper use of their because the dinner belongs to the group. Therefore, it is possessive.
If you get confused on which their, there, or they’re to use then use the process of elimination! If the thing you’re addressing by saying their doesn’t belong to anyone then you know it’s not that one. If you wouldn’t put they are in the place of they’re in a sentence then you know it isn’t either.
Here’s a trick to help you remember:
- ei = is a couple that belongs together, hence possessive
- An apostrophe (‘) = a contraction of two words – they and are
- ere = is the opposite of here
I hope this has helped clear up any confusion!
Bye for now,