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There / They’re / Their

There is no excuse for messing up these three words just because they sound the same. Their meanings do not overlap, so just take a moment to think about which one you need. They’re not too difficult to master!

INCORRECT

  • I spent the night in there kitchen, dancing!
  • They’re is a huge spider next to the toilet.
  • Did you hear that their heading to Australia?

CORRECT

When it isn’t used to indicate a place (“over there”), at the beginning of a sentence, there is called an existential pronoun. They tend to weaken a sentence (“There is rain”), and they’re best omitted. The apostrophe in they’re indicates a contraction: they are. Their derives from Old Norse, “of them,” which makes sense, since it’s the possessive form of they. “Their parents are so glad they finally married.” Even though they sound alike, separate them in your mind when you write them out.

MORE TO KNOW

This issue belongs within the category of Homophones from Hell. Their and there, in particular, sound identical in much of the English-speaking world; they’re is sometimes closer to “they-r” in pronunciation. Because of the fact that we speak them much more often than we write them, making them distinct in writing is usually the least of our worries.

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