Difference between There, Their and They’re

Published on October 25, 2016

There, their and there are three words that are confusing and often misused. These words are called homophones because they all sound alike. Let us go through each word and see how they are used.

Definitions

There vs Their vs They're

There is an adverb that indicates “at that place.” It expresses a location or direction. There is the opposite of the word here. It also functions as an adjective (but doesn’t show possession) as well as a pronoun that introduces a noun or clause.

Examples:

  • Do you want to talk there?
  • There is something going on here.
  • That chair there looks comfortable.
  • Can you put it there?

Their is a third person plural possessive adjective. It is the possessive form of they, which shows ownership over something. It is nearly always followed by a noun.

Examples:

  • Their house has been redecorated.
  • They brought their safety gear.
  • Alex and Rose left their Halloween treats in your house.
  • All of their belongings were stolen.

They’re is a contraction that stands for “they are” and is usually followed by the present participle or verb form ending in -ing. They’re is easy to differentiate because it is the only one with an apostrophe.

Examples:

  • She believes they’re not telling the truth.
  • They’re prepared to go through everything just to follow their dreams.
  • They’re picking a lot of strawberries on the farm.
  • Ani told me they’re already at the airport.

There vs Their vs They’re

The homophones there, their and they’re are commonly mixed up because they all sound the same. They may sound alike, but the meanings of these words are different.

There signifies a direction or place. Their is a possessive form of they, presenting an ownership, possession, or something that belongs to someone. They’re is a contraction of “they are.”

There can be an adjective, adverb, noun and pronoun, while their is almost always followed by a pronoun. They’re is simply a contraction. To be sure, replace the word with they are and see if the sentence makes sense.

Examples:

  • Dane loves traveling there.
  • The car was theirs.
  • There are many people in the backyard.
  • Tristan envied their house.
  • It is hot out there.
  • When they’re not playing, they teach kids.
  • Their books are all best sellers.

Comparison chart

There Their They’re
Homophone Homophone Homophone
Indicates a direction or place. Opposite of here. Possessive form of they. Contraction for they are.
Adjective, adverb, noun, pronoun Possessive adjective. Followed by a pronoun. Followed by the present participle.