Understanding the difference between they’re, there and their in English Grammar
While they’re, there and their sound exactly the same, they all have very different meanings. Because they sound so similar, these three words are very easy for anyone learning English to get mixed up. This is a very common problem but it shouldn’t be a cause of undue concern – they’re, there and their catch out many native English speakers too! However, once you really understand what each one means, you should be able to use each word more confidently.
In short, if you mean “belonging to them”, you should use their. If you could replace the word with “they are”, it’s they’re, and if neither of these apply, the only option left is there. Here are some more examples to help you learn the difference:
This is perhaps the most difficult one to master, as it has several different uses. These are as follows:
An adverb that means the opposite of “here”
- Sit over
- The ball is right
- The train station is right there.
A noun, meaning “that place” or “to that place”
- I really don’t want to go in there.
- We’re off to London After we’ve been there, we’ll carry on to Brighton.
A pronoun to introduce a noun or a clause
- There is a secret I’d like to share with you.
- Is there anything I can do to help?
- There are places I’ll remember all my life.
This is the third person plural possessive adjective. To put it more simply, it is used to describe something that belongs to them. It’s nearly always followed by a noun. For example:
- Where has their dog gone?
- We went to visit our friends. I like their
- If the teachers come, tell them their books are waiting here.
- Their teaching methods are excellent.
This is probably the simplest one to master. There is a contraction of “they are”, so it’s normally followed by the present participle (that is the verb ending in “-ing”). For example:
- Your parents called. They’re on their way.
- We can’t leave until they’re
The best way to remember the difference between they’re, there and their is to keep practising them so you can develop really get a good understanding of what each one means. That way you’ll start to see them as completely different words and will be less likely to get them confused.