One of the words that we see misspelled on a relatively frequent basis is there (or their, or they’re).
All the words are pronounced in a very similar way (identically in some accents).
When words sound the same (or very similar), people may confuse one for the other. Sometimes this is due to a lack of understanding, but quite often, the brain can play tricks on you and write the incorrect version of the word although you know the correct meaning of each.
This page will hopefully help you to understand the correct spelling of the words so that you can use them as you intend when writing documents and in communication.
What is the Difference between There, Their and They’re?
There are more than subtle differences between each of these words, even though they do sound similar. These are outlined below.
There is a word that is often used to mean that something is in a place or position. However, there are several meanings of the word there, depending on the context that the word is used.
The Cambridge Dictionary definition of there is:
Meaning 1 – ‘(to, at, or in) that place’
Meaning 2 – ‘used to introduce the subject of a sentence, especially before the verbs be, seem, and appear’
Meaning 3 – ‘used to begin some children’s stories written in a traditional style’
Meaning 4 – ‘used to express sympathy or satisfaction’
Meaning 5 – ‘exclamation’
Example sentences include:
- Look over there. (Meaning 1)
- There are ten sheep in the field. (Meaning 1)
- There is little point in arguing. (Meaning 2)
- There are many words on this page. (Meaning 2)
- There could be as many as 1000 words on this page. (Meaning 2)
- Please park your automobile over there. (Meaning 1)
- The chair over there has been in this room for many years. (Meaning 1)
- There, I told you that writing correctly wasn’t easy. (Meaning 5)
- There, there, said the mother to the child following a fall that caused a graze to the child’s knee. (Meaning 4)
- There was once a wolf that lived in a deep, dark forest… (Meaning 3)
The word ‘their‘ means something that belongs to a person on group.
The Cambridge Dictionary definitions of their are:
Meaning 1 – ‘of or belonging to them‘
Meaning 2 – ‘used to refer to one person in order to avoid saying “his or her‘
Example sentences with the word ‘their’ may include:
- Their car is red. (Meaning 1)
- Their son and their daughter both have their birthdays in March. (Meaning 1)
- I went to see my favorite football team. Their shits are red. (Meaning 1)
- I like their pet cat. (Meaning 1)
- I find that their manners are excellent. (Meaning 2)
- One of the team has got their shirt much dirtier than the others. (Meaning 2)
They’re is an abbreviation for they are.
This word uses an apostrophe (‘) to represent missing letters (in this case an ‘a’). You can read more about the use of apostrophes in the Section dedicated to the apostrophe punctuation mark.
Example sentences that can include the abbreviated word ‘they’re’ include:
- They’re much taller in person.
- Have you seen the mountains? They’re much higher than I expected them to be.
Hopefully, this page about the correct spelling of there, their and they’re has been helpful. Don’t forget to check out some of our pages on grammar, punctuation, and writing tools, accessible from the menu near the top of this page. They are designed to be used together to improve your understanding of the English language and to write correctly.
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