Grammar GuideSpellingWhat's the difference between 'there', 'they're' and 'their'?

What's the difference between 'there', 'they're' and 'their'?

What's the difference between 'there', 'they're' and 'their'?

Their, they're and there are all pronounced in the same way but have different meanings and so are used in different contexts.

Their is a possessive adjective and used to describe a noun belonging to more than one person. e.g. Put their books on the table. You can test this by substituting 'their' for 'our' to see if the sentence still makes sense. It changes the meaning of the sentence, but as both words are possessive adjectives used for plurals, it should still make sense.

They're is a contraction of the words they are. It can only be used as a subject or a verb. e.g. They're the two best players on the team. A good way to test this is to ask yourself if 'they are' can be substituted in its place.

There is a word to describe a specified place, or an unspecified place (the existence of something). e.g. The kids are playing over there. (specified place); There are two apples (the existence of the apples, the place doesn't need to be specified). If you can replace the word 'there' with 'here' then you have usually used the word correctly in the sentence.

Dictionary Definition of theirDictionary Definition of thereDictionary Definition of they're

Examples of their in a sentence

Admittedly, some of their tardiness—all right, most of it—was Ruth’s fault.
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond
He was only forty-six, but he could have belonged to their parents’ generation.
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond
Their own crappy rental was a couple of miles away, at the Alameda Extended Stay Apartments.
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond
Their mortgage back home was only $852, and that included property taxes.
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond

Examples of there in a sentence

AS RUTH UNDERSTOOD IT, THERE EXISTED A DICHOTOMY of opinions…
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond
Vee said, “There’s your first mistake.
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond
They didn’t play fair, but there it was: you could stay and take it, or you could go home.
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond
There was a smog inversion—again—throughout the San Fernando Valley.
- Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond