There, Their, and They’re: The Differences and How to Use Them

25 July 2023 / Team Fun English Course

Homophones, words with similar sounds but different meanings, can be perplexing. Three common ones that confuse are there, their, and they’re. Fortunately, we offer a comprehensive guide explaining the distinctions between those three, ensuring you never confuse them again!

What is the Difference between There, Their, and They’re?

Difference between There, Their, and They’re

Hole and whole; flower and flour; cite and sight. These homophones sound alike, but the spellings and meanings are distinct. On the other hand, “there,” their,” and “they’re” are also among the most commonly misused. 

While pronounced the same, “their” is possessive, “there” is versatile, and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are.” Homonyms like these can be challenging to grasp, however. Take a look at the examples below.

  • Their jackets are nice – possessive pronoun.
  • Diana is always there for me – adjective.
  • They’re going to the beach this weekend – a contraction.

The Meaning of “There”

there meaning

Primarily, “there” meaning refers to “in or at that place.” Besides, it indicates where an action occurs, distinguishing it from the other words in its homonymic trio. 

“There” is commonly used to specify a particular place. In addition to its adverbial role, “there” can also function as a pronoun to introduce a clause or sentence. Here are some examples:

  • Stop right there! Don’t take another step! – the example emphasizes the urgency and commands someone to halt their actions immediately.
  • Diana has always been there for me as my oldest friend – “there” indicates abstract locations.
  • There is a delicious cake in the kitchen – it shows the existence or presence of something without specifying its location.

In addition to its adverbial role, “there” can also function as a pronoun to introduce a clause or sentence. It also adds layers of complexity compared to “their” and “they’re.” Besides, it serves as two different parts of speech.

What about “Their”?

 when to use their

“Their,” on the other hand, is a possessive pronoun that indicates ownership or possession by multiple people. Besides describing something that belongs to a group or individuals, it also commonly refers to people, animals, objects, or abstract concepts. Here is the right time when to use “their”.

  • Tom and Sarah brought their children to the park – “their” indicates ownership or possession, showing that the children belong to Tom and Sarah.

While “their” is commonly used in its plural form, a noun often follows to show who the owner or possessors are. It can also be used as a gender-neutral alternative to indicate possession without specifying the gender of the owner. For example:

  • The students forgot their textbooks in the classroom

What Does “They’re” Mean?

they’re in a sentence

“They’re” is a contraction that represents the phrase “they are.” This aspect makes it relatively simpler to differentiate from its homonyms. So, how do you use they’re in a sentence? Check out the examples:

  • They’re going to the movies tonight.
  • I heard they’re getting married in Malibu.
  • I’m excited to see them perform—they’re such talented musicians.

In these examples, “they’re” is a contraction of “they are” and is used to indicate an action or attribute belonging to a group of people or things. 

However, contractions are generally discouraged in formal or academic writing. Yet, you can always use it in informal communication, like texts or personal notes.

How to Remember Them

How to Remember There, Their, and They’re

Differentiating “there,” “their,” and “they’re” takes time, of course. However, these simple tricks may help you remember the right time to use each term correctly.

  • “There” contains “here,” indicating location.
  • “Their” has “heir,” reminding us of possession.
  • “They’re” is a contraction of “they are.” You can substitute both words to confirm their meaning.

To enhance your English skills and enjoy the learning process, join Fun English Course. They offer beginner and intermediate classes, including engaging book clubs to deepen your understanding of there, their, and they’re. So, what are you waiting for? Please take your seat in one of our classes now!

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