There, Their, They're


Possibly the most common of the wrongly positioned word-sets in the English language is the misuse of there, their and they're. We've all read, "John and Mavis were happy with there newly adopted mongoose". Wrong.

There points to a physical or abstract location; "I want you to move over there"; "I am looking forward to heaven - it will be great there". The word there can also be used with the verb to be in its various forms: "there is more than one way to skin a hamster"; "there will be trouble if you use the word so at the start of a sentence".


Their is a possessive adjective and indicates ownership of a noun: "they celebrated their anniversary at McDonalds"; "they went there to declare their love for each other; they were sick to their stomachs for days".


They're is simply a contraction of the two words they and are. In informal writing and speech it feels more comfortable than the original words might: "They're getting away captain" sounds like Scotty; "They are getting away" sounds like a Dalek. If you want people to read your writing and truly hear your voice then you'll use contractions. However, don't use contractions in formal writing where you're trying to create a professional feel. When I'm writing for others my first question is always "What "voice" do you want the piece written in?" To rewrite a sentence from above:

"However, do not use contractions in a sentence where you are trying to create a professional feel,"

It just shows how unnatural our own language can sound if we remove contractions.

Tasks 0/2 completed
1. Learn the correct use for each word
2. Check all of your editable work for mistakes.

Top Helpers in This Lesson

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
christine2 Premium
I will leave now, because I am constantly picking up grammar and spelling mistakes in others, as well as on the news, in newspapers, in books, on the radio...
Not that mine is perfect, but I must have had VERY GOOD TEACHERS as I was painfully and deliberately acquiring English as my second language...I would never have had the guts to put anything up as training but I find it hilarious and can only commend you, Paul.I feel like I have found a soul mate griping about the same thing. I hope you have given a tutorial on my pet hate: the misuse of the words to lay and to lie. My patients always tell me they were laying down...their life, perhaps? And working in Ashton-under - Lyne near Manchester one of my patients proceeded to tell me: "I were just eating me tea, when..."
Coming from South Africa I never thought that i would need an interpreter for English, but there I did!
Paul Dean Premium
In Manchester (as elsewhere in England) people will happily admit to being "sat in front of the telly". I never occurs to them that by the same grammatical rules they should "get up and go for a walked". People seem particularly poor at tenses.

When ever I hear the word "sat" on telly I shout the word "sitting!" My wife just sighs.

I'll try to do "me" and "I" tomorrow, along with the correction to "me and him went out".
mrbill74 Premium
I'm forever correcting my girlfriend's comments, and it's reached the point where I simply brace myself after doing so--I KNOW she's going to smack me! These comments here remind me of a grammar course I enjoyed while still at AT&T. By the end of class, we came to three resolute conclusions:

1) It's not 'Lay Lady Lay', it's 'Lie Lady Lie';
2) It's not 'Lay Down, Sally', it's 'Lie Down, Sally'; and
3) It's not 'I Feel Good!', but 'I Feel Well'.

I may not have used the proper punctuation above, but this discussion is about grammar, right? :-)
speedking Premium
Hi Christine, good to hear from a fellow South African and great to meat up with you at WA ! I'm very new to all of this, but having a lot of fun doing it .Paul reminds me of one of my English teachers way back when in 'lekka" ol' SA.........keep up the good work Paul , there's always something new to learn.
RandyKR Premium
You should try to don' t lett it buggya so much.
JayandGlenda Premium Plus
Another one that bothers me is the misuse of the words I and me. Please clarify for those who obviously don't know any better.
mamalama Premium
As a home-school mom, I deal with grammar issues pretty regularly but I didn't have the guts to create grammar lessons for the WA community. This is a great service to many. Thanks a lot!
jespinola Premium
Interesting.. I will check my grammar :)
techhound Premium Plus
Hey Paul, great lesson. How about "Yore" being added to the last section? LOL.

Best Regards,
Paul Dean Premium
I'll do "yore" when I do "y'all". (No I won't).
techhound Premium Plus
LOL. Nice!