If you ever scratch your head about "they're", "there" and "their", have a look at this and see if it helps. If not, tell us and we will try again!
One of the commonest mistakes in the English language is confusing words that sound the same, but that have very different meanings. Luckily this doesn’t often cause a real problem – after all, when we read something, we normally ‘vocalise’ the text in our own brains – so even if the spelling is wrong, we still get the meaning. But it does slow the reading process down.
‘There’ is probably the one word that causes more confusion than any other. Just think about the different uses:
• Put it over there
• They loved their holiday
• They’re leaving soon
Here are some suggestions about remembering which spelling to use – and why.
1. There is a place or an instance: over there; there is.
How to remember this one: take the ‘t’ off ‘there’ and you get ‘here’. But it’s not here, so it must be there.
2. Their belongs to someone: their holiday; their photos
I have not thought of a good way to remember this one – so if you have an idea that works for you, please let me know.
3. They’re is an abbreviation of ‘they are’: 'they are leaving' becomes 'they’re leaving', and 'they are correct' becomes 'they’re correct'.
How to remember this one: turn the ‘a’ from ‘are’ into an apostrophe – and there you have it!
If we add an ‘s’ on to the end, we get even more options!
• There’s a hole in my bucket
• It’s not mine, it’s theirs
1. There’s is an abbreviation of ‘there is’: there is a hole in my bucket becomes ‘there’s a hole in my bucket’
How to remember this one: turn the ‘i’ from ‘is’ into an apostrophe
2. Theirs still belongs to them. But whereas ‘their’ describes the thing that belongs to someone else, “theirs” replaces it.
When you say “No 6 is their house”, you need to mention the house. If someone said “No 6 is their...” You would ask, “their what?”
If someone says “No 6 is theirs” the word “theirs” means “their house”. In this sense, it is like “hers”, “ours” or “yours”.
Call back next week for another tip – or email me if there’s any issue you would like me to cover!