Word Choice: There, Their and They’re

When writing, it’s easy to confuse the words “there,” “their” and “they’re” since they sound similar when spoken. Moreover, these words will not always be picked up by your spellchecker if used wrongly, so it’s easy for errors to creep into your work.

How, then, can you make sure you’ve used them correctly in your work? Read on to find out!

There (Location or Position)

“There” is used to indicate the place of something. We can thus use it to refer to something in our immediate vicinity:

Not the red car. I mean the green car over there.

Or to refer to a place previously mentioned in the conversation:

India? No, I’ve never been there.

It can also be used with the verb ‘are’ to assert the existence of something:

There are several cinemas in New York.

Or to ask a question about whether something is present or existing:

Is there a burger bar somewhere around here?

Their (Possession)

“Their” is a pronoun used to indicate third-person, plural possession. This means that it is used when describing something that belongs to a group of things or people:

This is their ball; you’d better give it back.

You know it’s winter when the trees lose their leaves.

Remember that the word “theirs” is a pronoun and used in the same way as “his” or “hers.” You do not need to add an apostrophe to show possession!

They’re (They Are)

The apostrophe in “they’re” indicates that this is a contraction of “they are”:

They’re going to win the game.

I think they’re coming over tonight.

It’s worth noting that contractions like “they’re” are often considered informal, so you should make sure to write “they are” in academic or professional documents.

To check your writing for mistakes like these, why not send it to the professionals at Proofed?

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