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What's The Difference Between There, Their and They're?

If you are learning English for the first time, you will probably find it very difficult to remember all of the complex rules of the language. It may seem as if there is an exception for every single grammatical rule.

Fortunately, we can help you with the following common mistake: using the incorrect version of the words there, their and they're. Although the three words sound exactly the same when they are pronounced, they have very different functions and meanings. Words that sound the same, but have a different meaning are called "homophones."

 

There

The term "there" is an adverb or a word that describes a verb, adjective or other adverb. This is a very common word in the English language that is used to indicate place and means "that location."

"He avoided walking down the left side of the street because there was a large dog standing there."

 

Their

The term "their" is a possessive pronoun or a word that always describes a noun. Just like the name suggests, possessive pronouns are used to indicate ownership. This is another very common English word that means relating to them or themselves or his or her.

This particular term is another example of one of the many exceptions in the English language. Most English words are spelled "ie" as in the word thief, except when they follow the letter c. In that case, they are spelled with an "ei" like the word ceiling. However, the spelling of this particular word is an exception that doesn't follow the general rule.

"The boys played with their new Christmas toys all day long."

 

They're

The term "they're" is a contraction or shortened word. It is an abbreviated version of the English words "they" and "are." The letter a from the word "are" is replaced by an apostrophe.

"They're going to leave for vacation tomorrow morning."

Tip: If you have trouble remembering the difference between the 3 terms, think of the word "here" buried inside the word "there" to remind you it refers to a location. You can also think of the word "heir" inside the term "their" to remind you it refers to ownership.