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What To Use: There, Their Or They’re

Published by at February 9th, 2024 , Revised On February 28, 2024

Ah, the infamous trio – there, their, and they’re. These homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings) can trip up even the most confident writer. Fear not, fellow wordsmiths! This guide will discuss the differences and equip you with the knowledge to conquer these confusing words.


Let’s start with “there.” This word is often used to indicate a location, either a specific place or a general direction. It can also be used as an introductory word to draw attention to a particular subject. Here are some examples:

  • Location: “The bookshop is over there.”
  • Introductory: “There seems to be a misunderstanding.”

In both cases, “there” is pointing to a location or drawing attention to a specific idea.


Now, let’s move on to “their.” This term is a possessive adjective, indicating ownership by a group. It is used to describe something that belongs to a group of people, animals, or things. Here are examples:

  • “The students forgot to bring their textbooks.”
  • “The dogs wagged their tails happily.”

In these sentences, “their” is highlighting possession by a group, whether it’s students or dogs.


Finally, we have “they’re.” This term is a contraction of “they are.” It combines the pronoun “they” with the verb “are.” It is used to describe an action or state of being by a group of individuals. Here are examples:

  • “They’re going to the concert tonight.”
  • “I think they’re the ones who called.”

In these instances, “they’re” is a shortened form of “they are” and is used to convey actions or states of being.

Common Mistakes

Understanding the distinctions between “there,” “their,” and “they’re” can prevent common mistakes in writing. One of the most prevalent errors is the misuse of “there” when indicating possession, or vice versa. For example:

    • Incorrect: “The students left there backpacks in the classroom.”
    • Correct: “The students left their backpacks in the classroom.”


    • Incorrect: “I wonder if they’re going to enjoy there time at the party.”
    • Correct: “I wonder if they’re going to enjoy their time at the party.”

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Tips For Choosing The Right Word

Here are some tips that can help you choose the right word. 

Tip 1: Think About The Sentence Structure

  • If the word introduces a sentence or refers to a specific location, use there.
  • If the word modifies a noun, indicating ownership, use their.
  • If the word can be replaced with “they are” without changing the meaning, use they’re.

Tip 2: Substitute With “Here” Or “Are”

  • If “here” makes sense, use there.
  • If “are” makes sense, use they’re.
  • If neither makes sense, use their.

Tip 3: Listen To The Sound

  • There has a softer “th” sound like “think.”
  • Their has a harder “th” sound like “throw.”
  • They’re sounds like “they-uh.”

Bonus Tip

Use a spell check! Most grammar tools and spell checkers can identify the correct usage in context.

Practice Exercises

Fill in the blanks:

  • ___ are going to the park to play basketball.
  • I love spending time at ___ house; it’s always so cozy.
  • Can you pass me ___ phone? I left mine at home.
  • ___ going to be late for the meeting if you don’t hurry up.
  • The children are excited because ___ parents promised to take them to Disneyland.
  • Please put the groceries over ___, on the kitchen counter.
  • ___ really good friends, and I trust them completely.
  • I heard ___ bringing snacks to the party tonight.
  • The Smiths are saving money to build ___ dream home.
  • ___ going to have a picnic in the park this weekend.

Correct The sentences:

  • “I heard they’re cat is really cute.”
  • “There going to be late for the meeting.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Use “there” to indicate a place or location, such as “over there.” Use “their” to show possession, belonging to a group, like “their car.” Remember, “there” refers to a place, while “their” indicates ownership by a group.

Use “their” to indicate possession or ownership by a group. For example, “They parked their car in the driveway.” It shows that the car belongs to a specific group of people. “Their” is used to highlight possession within a collective context, distinguishing it from individual ownership.

While “there’re” is commonly used in spoken English, it’s informal, and some consider it less suitable in formal writing. In formal contexts, it’s advisable to use the full form, “there are.” However, in casual conversation or informal writing, “there’re” is acceptable for brevity.

Certainly! Here’s an example: “They’re planning to visit their grandparents next weekend.” In this sentence, “they’re” is a contraction of “they are,” and “their” indicates possession, emphasising that the grandparents belong to the group of people planning the visit.

Yes, while “their” is traditionally used for plural possession, it is increasingly accepted for singular non-binary or gender-neutral usage when the individual’s gender is unknown or unspecified. For example, “Alex lost their keys.” This acknowledges the person without specifying gender and aligns with inclusive language practices.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.