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there OR their OR they're?

These three terms have the same pronunciation but very different meanings.

there = not here
their = belonging to them
they're = they are

there

The word there is an adverb of place, basically the opposite of "here". We use it in sentences like these:

  • I went there last week.
  • Shall we sit here or there?

We also use there in phrases like:

  • I think there is someone at the door.
  • Is there a police station nearby?
  • There is safety in numbers.
Note that in speech "there is" is often contracted to "there's":
  • There's a man at the door.
  • Do you think there's any possibility he'll come?

their

The word their is a plural possessive adjective for people or things, similar to the singular his, her and its:

  • Anthony must have come. This is his car.
  • Ram and Kirsty must have come. This is their car.

Here are some example sentences:

  • Parents always want the best for their children.
  • I could hear their voices but I couldn't see them.
  • These are my keys and these are their keys.
  • When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.

they're

This is a contraction (short form) of "they are". Look at these examples:

  • They're happy.
  • They're playing football.
  • I wonder why they're not here.
  • I guess they're not coming.

Note that in this contraction, "are" can be a main verb or an auxiliary verb:

  • They're here (they are here - "are" = main verb)
  • They're watching TV (they are watching - "are" = auxiliary verb)

Here is a sentence that contains all three terms:

  • They're living in their new house over there.

Check your understanding with our there OR their OR they're Quiz

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