There, Their, and They’re: The Difference and When to Use Each

“They’re,” “their,” and “there” — these three homophones (words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings) trip up lots of people. They’re among some of the most commonly confused words!

Though they look similar and sound the same, they are not interchangeable. “There” is about place, “their” is about possession or belonging, and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are.”

Let’s dive a little deeper.

There: Answers the Question, “Where?”

This word acts as an adverb, a particular kind of adverb called a demonstrative. It indicates location or place.

Use “there” to point to a physical location:

  • “Put your phone over there on the table.”
  • “I would like to go there.
  • There are the ducks!”

To remember the spelling of this one, think of the word “where,” and just replace the w with a t. 

“Where?” 

“There.”

“There” can also introduce a concept or idea. “There is a chance it might rain today,” for example. This usage is similar to the way we say “it is.” In the phrase “it is going to rain today,” “it” doesn’t necessarily refer to something specific. Similarly, if we say, “There is nice weather today,” we’re not thinking of a specific location as much as a general “there.”

Protip: “There” can be used with “is” and “are,” as in, “there is/are.” However, we don’t say “their is/are” or “they’re is/are.”

Their: Shows Possession

“Their” is a type of pronoun called a possessive pronoun, like “my” or “your.” Use “their” to show something belongs to a person or group: 

  • “The runners received their medals.”
  • “The company has announced their new policy.”
  • “I love that restaurant because their chicken is the best!”

This rule may seem tricky, but here’s a little mnemonic device for remembering this one: “their” is the only there/their/they’re that has an “i” in it, and “I” is also a kind of pronoun.

They’re: A Contraction — Two Words in One 

“They’re” is simply a contraction of the words “they are.” Imagine that little apostrophe represents an a.

Here are some examples:

  • They’re planning a trip to Europe.” (“They are planning a trip to Europe.”)
  • They’re really nice!” (“They are really nice!”)
  • “That’s where they’re going.” (That’s where they are going.”)

If you’re unsure whether to use “they’re,” try replacing the word with “they are.” If the sentence sounds correct, then “they’re” is the right choice.

There, Their, and They’re Used Together Correctly

Here are some examples of using two or even all three words together.

There & They’re:

  • There is a nice seafood restaurant in town that they’re going to try.
  • They’re sitting over there.

Their & There:

  • Their shrimp is fantastic there.
  • Their presents are there on the table.

They’re & Their:

  • They’re eating their food.
  • They’re really enjoying their presents.

They’re, There, & Their:

  • They’re going on their vacation over there
  • They’re visiting their uncle there.
  • They’re excited that their gifts are there under the tree.

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