learn to use they're, there, their

They’re vs There vs Their: What’s the Difference?

Dennys Caldera Boka Published on November 27, 2023

English is like a fun maze of words with surprises at every turn. And right in the middle of this word puzzle, we find the tricky trio: they’re, there, and their. These three little troublemakers sound the same, which often causes confusion and leads to their misuse. But don’t worry. In this article, we’ll go over their different meanings, how to spell them, and their common usage. I’ll also show you helpful example sentences for these commonly confused words.

learn to use they're, there, their

When to Use “There” and Examples

First, meet “there,” a word with more identities than a secret agent. It is the language juggler, changing roles as a noun, adjective, adverb, pronoun, and even an interjection. As a noun, “there” points to a specific place; as an adverb, it’s all about location (the opposite of ‘here’). It can be an adjective, enhancing the place’s importance, and as a pronoun to introduce a noun, phrase, clause, or sentence.

  • He wants to go there, to the distant lands from adventure stories. (adverb – indicates location/direction)
  •  There is a new pizza restaurant in the city. (pronoun – can be used as a subject to start the sentence)
  •  I left my keys over there. (noun – indicates specific place/location)
  • There! I found the missing puzzle piece. (interjection – expresses sudden discovery/success)

When to Use “They’re” and Examples

“They’re” is not just a homophone of “there,” but it’s a contraction, too. “They’re” is the shorthand for two words: they and are. How can you tell? Easy, stretch it out into “They are.” If your sentence still makes sense, you’re on track. It’s your casual companion in informal chats but might not be the best choice in formal writing. So, when crafting a polished essay, it’s better to use “they are” instead of the contraction.

  • They’re happy to go on a big jungle adventure.
  • You’ll like the parties downtown; they’re known for great music and a fun vibe.
  • While on vacation, they’re going to visit old ruins and learn about history.

When to Use “Their” and Examples

Lastly, we have “their.” The word that shows ownership. It’s the possessive form of “they” and goes before a noun. Though it’s used for plural nouns, ‘their’ can also be a singular, gender-neutral pronoun when the gender is unknown or not specified. If you don’t know a person’s preffered pronouns, “their” is a safe choice.

  • The children enjoy playing with their toys in the sunny garden.
  • Dogs wag their tails when they see their owners.
  • In a team, each player must know their role and responsibilities.

There, Their, and They’re: A Quick Review

“They’re,” “there,” and “their,” are three words that sound alike but have different meanings and functions. “They’re” is the shortened version of ‘they are,’ ideal for casual talks but not the best fit for formal writing. “There” is a versatile word, used as a pronoun, noun, adjective, adverb, and even an interjection. It guides us to places and serves various roles. Lastly, “their” points to ownership, showing what belongs to the pronoun “they.” Typically linked with plurals, it also doubles as a gender-neutral pronoun for inclusivity.

Now that you know the differences, let’s put them together:

  • At the park, they’re playing on the swings. There is a lot of laughter, and their parents are watching.
  • In the classroom, they’re studying hard. Their teacher is there to help them.
  • At the campfire, they’re toasting marshmallows. There is a cozy feeling, and their friends are all around.

Ways to Practice They’re, There, and Their

Mastering the intricacies of the English language is like becoming a linguistic ninja. Here are a few suggestions to help you apply these words correctly and remember the differences:

  1. Sentence Play: Craft sentences that give “they’re,” “there,” and “their” a workout, exploring their different facets.
  2. Flashcard Fiesta: Create flashcards with sentences for each word and make it a fun vocabulary party.
  3. Proofreading Quest: Keep an eagle eye out for these sneaky homophones when proofreading your work. Correct and conquer English grammar!
  4. Online Quizzes: Level up your English language game with online quizzes and exercises that reinforce your knowledge.

They’re, There, Their: Final Thoughts

As you walk your learning path, being able to tell the difference between “they’re,” “there,” and “their” and use them correctly is key to becoming a skilled communicator. With practice and a clear grasp of their differences, you’ll handle these words effectively. For instance, you can review your past mistakes or ask an English native speaker for help to learn tips and tricks for these particular homophones. Using these words in the right context ensures that your messages are clear, precise, and easily understood. As you keep learning, remember that practice makes perfect.

Dennys Caldera Boka

Dennys is a content writer at Langoly. He’s passionate about language learning and has been helping others achieve their goals and develop their language skills for many years. He’s interested in emerging technologies and how they can help people reskill and upskill. He loves cooking, watching sci-fi movies, and listening to podcasts. Connect with Dennys on LinkedIn.

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