Watch out! There are some mistakes they’re making in their writing, but now you can manage to avoid them!
There’s no need to apologize for getting confused over this. Sometimes, even native English speakers don’t know how to differentiate among the three of them—whether it’s their spelling or their sound. We will go over what there, their, and they’re mean and how to use each one correctly.
There is a beautiful word. It serves two functions: adverb and exclamation. It is an adverb when it means being in or at, or getting to, some place or position. For example:
There, on your left, you will find the store you’re looking for.
She looked for you and stopped there, at the corner.
There is where our opinions differ.
France is beautiful in the summer; there is where I want to travel this year.
It is also used when wanting to catch someone or something’s attention (1), or when indicating the existence of something (2):
(1) Hello there, stranger!
(2) There is a black cat under the ladder!
Moreover, with intransitive verbs, especially be, appear, and seem, there is used before the verb to introduce the subject of the sentence. Sounds too technical? Check it out:
There is someone waiting for you.
He arrived late because there seemed to be a car crash in the fast lane, so he took another route.
There appears to be a person who walked in uninvited.
As an exclamation, it indicates that the speaker is comforting someone else (1) or that the attention needs to be focused on something (2).
(1) There, there, everything will work out fine, dear.
(2) There, I told you we had run out of milk!
Their is a possessive determiner. This means that it goes before a noun or noun phrase and introduces it to the audience. Furthermore, as it is possessive, it indicates—you guessed it!—possession of an object, a person, or a place. In this case, it is a third-person determiner, which describes something belonging to them.
Their mom bakes the most delicious pies.
Many bikers don’t wear helmets over their heads.
In the case of physicists, it is quite impossible to guess their approach.
However, it can also be used to refer to one individual to avoid saying his or her.
One of the teachers left their marker on top of the desk.
Late last night, we heard someone practicing their singing skills.
They’re is a contraction of the personal pronoun they and the form are of the verb to be. Yes, as simple as that! Just take a look:
They are coming to our place tomorrow. -> They’re coming to our place tomorrow.
I was told they’re probably going to explain that theory.
Maybe they’re happy about the result.
Last minute tips
- If you can replace the word with they are, they’re is the right option.
- If you can replace the word with his or her, or with the pronoun theirs when eliminating the noun, their is correct.
- If you can replace the word with another adverb of place, such as here, there is your answer.
- Now that you can clearly tell the difference between their and they’re, you can probably also choose when to use your or you’re and his or he’s.
We would love to know: has this ever happened to you before? Or, do you have an unanswered question? Tell us in the comments!