Grammar

The Right use of “There”, “Their” and “They’re”

There, Their, They’re: The Easy Explanation

There” means in that place:
• We drove there early in the morning.
Their” is a possessive form of they:
• They gave their earnings to charity.
They’re” is a contraction of they + are:
• When Grandma and Grandpa get here, they’re going to take us out to lunch.

When to Use There, Their, They’re

The word “there” typically means in or at that place and can be an adverb (as in stand over there) and a noun (as in you can see it from there). It also has some more abstract meanings, such as when it’s used a pronoun that introduces a clause or phrase (as in there comes a time). As an adjective, “there” means capable of being relied on (as in I’ll be there for you).
The word “their” shows ownership as the possessive form of they—such as how “my” is the possessive form of “me”:
Their bus was so late, so Susie and Teddy started walking. (“Their” shows that Susie and Teddy “own” the bus.)
The word “they’re” is simply a contraction (they + are = they’re). Don’t let the apostrophe fool you: “they’re” is never used to show possession. It is always only a shortened version of they + are.

Examples of There, Their, They’re

1. They took the bus there but then caught a ride home. (noun meaning that place)
2. Just put your homework over there. (adverb meaning that place)
3. There should be a law against looking so good. (introduces a phrase)
4. His mom was always there for him when he needed her. (meaning capable of being relied on)
5. The cats hissed and arched their backs. (showing possession—the cats “own” the backs)
6. We took their drinks and drank them ourselves. (showing possession—the drinks belong to an unnamed “they.”)
7. Jack and Jill took a bus up the hill, but they’re still going to fall down it. (meaning they + are)

How to Remember the Difference Between There, Their, They’re

There are a couple of memory tips for each word. “There” has “here” inside it, reminding you it is a place. “Their” has “heir” inside it, reminding you it is about possession.
They’re,” of course, is a contraction. Don’t let the apostrophe make you think it shows possession (as it would with, say, Katie’s camera). Instead, the apostrophe should remind you it stands for two words (they + are).

This one is easy to mess up if you rush, and it looks bad when you get it wrong. Take a second to test your answer. You can typically replace “there” with “here,” and it will mostly make sense.
The army marched there and prepared for battle.
The army marched [HERE] and prepared for battle. (Makes sense, so it’s correct.)
You can typically replace “their” with “our,” and it will mostly make sense.
They took out their credit cards and paid for breakfast.
They took out [OUR] credit cards and paid for breakfast. (Makes sense, so it’s correct.)
They took out [HERE] credit cards and paid for breakfast. (If you tried the test for “there” in this sentence, you would see “there” is not the correct form to use.)

And, of course, you can always replace “they’re” with “they are.”
They’re heading home at the end of a long vacation.
[THEY ARE] heading home at the end of a long vacation. (Makes sense, so it’s correct.)
[HERE] heading home at the end of a long vacation. (If you tried the test for “there” in this sentence, you would see “there” is not the correct form to use.)
[OUR] heading home at the end of a long vacation. (If you tried the test for “their” in this sentence, you would see “their” is not the correct form to use.)

Theory into Practice: There, Their, They’re

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