Saturday, June 25, 2011


Their, there and they're are soundalike words that have entirely different meanings.  Starting with the easiest one to define, the contraction "they're" means "they are" - and that's all it means.  Using anything other than "they're" for "they are" is incorrect, as is using "they're" to mean anything but "they are."  Further, the usage of "they're" for "they are" presumes that one or more words follow the contraction.  Writing or saying "They're late" is correct, but writing/saying "Here they're" for "Here they are" isn't.

As for the other two, the word "there" has multiple meanings, but possession isn't one of them.  Many people write "there" when they mean to use "their," as in belonging to two or more people ("They need to watch their language."  "They're out of their minds.").  Their is a possessive pronoun, just like your, our, his or her.

For anything other than "they are" (they're) or "belonging to them" (their), the correct word is thereThere often refers to a place or destination, and an easy way to remember this is to keep in mind that the words "where" and "here," which also refer to places/destinations, are spelled similarly, and "where" and "there" both have the word "here" in them.  ("There they are!  They're late, and they've forgotten their books.")

Incorrect: "Their out of there minds."
Correct: "They're out of their minds."

Incorrect: "Their they are."
Correct: "There they are."

Incorrect: "They forgot they're books."
Correct: "They forgot their books."

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