The English language is full of words that sound similar, but are spelled differently and mean completely different things. However, none are more infamous than the trio of “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” It’s a common source of frustration for many English speakers, but don’t worry, we’ll save you a few headaches with these tips.
There = place
Whenever you’re talking about physical space, you need to use “there.” It’s what allows use to visualize where things are located. For example, “Put the boxes over there.” You know “there” is referring to a place.
Their = possession
One way to think about “their” is as the plural form of “your.” It shows possession of something, but instead of to one person, to a group of people or even an organization. For example, “That painting belongs to their collection.”
They’re = they are
This one is simple. “They’re” is an adjective that describes an organization or group of people and literally translates to “they are.” Here’s an example of how it works: “They’re the most successful coffee shop in town.”
So how do you tell the difference between all three. Well, it’s always easy to know when to use “they’re” because all you have to do is substitute it with “they are.” If the sentence still makes sense then you’re using it properly!
As for the other two, you simply have to make an effort to memorizing which one refers to what. One neat trick for “there” is to associate it with “where.” The two are spelled similarly and when someone asks “where?” your response is “there.” Pretty easy, right?
If you can remember these two rules then, by process of elimination, you’ll know when you’re supposed to use “their.” Once you get the hang of it, you’ll use these tests less and less until you eventually learn to recognize each by their spelling.