There! Their! They’re!

Words can be so confusing! Especially when words sound the same - that can cause so much confusion! When you are working on vocabulary, it is important to know the differences among words that may sound the same but are actually different - we call these homophones.

Theretheir, and they're all sound the same, and many people misuse them all the time.

In academic and business writing, it is important to use the correct word each time.

Let's do a quick review of these three words that can cause everybody so much trouble!

(1) There is used to show location. Examples:
  • Where is the phone? It's over there.
  • That store sounds nice! Let's go there.
(2) We use their to show possession - in this case, to show that something belongs to two or more people. (Bob's car = his car; Susan's car = her car; Bob and Susan's car = their car) Examples:
  • Mike and Marge sold their old car last week.
  • My neighbors lost their keys, but later they found them in their sofa.
(3) They're is a contraction; it's a combination of they and are. Examples:
  • I love my sisters. They're the best sisters in the world!
  • I just love all the cookies you made. They're so delicious!
Note: In formal writing (academic papers, business reports, etc.), you should not use contractions such as they're. Use the separate words instead. For example, use they are instead of they're in formal writing.

And now, here is a sentence that uses all three words!
  • They're shopping for birthday presents for their twin daughters at the store over there.
Let's practice!
  1. Walter and Kathy can't find (there/their/they're) dog.
  2. The neighbors' kids drive me crazy! (There/Their/They're) so noisy!
  3. I put the cookbook on the table over (there/their/they're).
(scroll down for the answers)

  1. their
  2. They're
  3. there

Related: Ten Tips to Improve Your Vocabulary

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