Their, There and They're

What is the difference between there, their and they're? They all look and sound so similar so can we use them in the same way? The short answer is no, they are not the same and so we can't use them in the same way. Let's take a look at the three words to see what the difference is and how to use them correctly:


Their

Their is a possessive pronoun or a determiner. This word tells us who something belongs to. It is in the third person plural form, which means it refers to a group of people excluding yourself and the person you are talking to. Let's look at some examples:


  • Their car was driving so fast, I couldn't see how many people were inside.

  • They are coming to the movies with their friends.

  • I wish they would pick up their dog's poo

  • I ate dinner at their house last night.


All of these sentences show that someone possesses something using the word their.

"Is that their car over there?"
"Yes, she's still in there with her friends. They are doing their makeup before we go inside."


 

There

There can be used in a few different ways but is usual used in directions or to help someone find something. Let's look at these different uses and some examples for each:


1. There (in a place or position)

  • Look at that cat over there.

  • The TV remote is on the table, just there (said whilst pointing).

  • Did you see that house on fire back there?

2. There + be (to state a fact or something true)

  • There are about 7.5 billion people on the planet.

  • I went to Los Angeles last year. There was so much traffic!

  • There is a really nice restaurant just around the corner

3. Be + there (to ask a question about something)

  • Are there any tables available at 8:30?

  • Is there something I can do to make you feel better?

  • Was there a problem with the delivery?

There are a few more ways of using there in English, but these three are the most common.

"That farm over there is mine.
"Are there any cows nearby?"
"There are 15 or 16 cows in the field next to it."

 

They're

They're is a contraction of they and are in the same way that we're means we are and I'm means I am. Contractions are very important in English as they help us to speak with shorter sentences and to sound friendlier in conversations. Here are some examples of how to use they're:

  • They're going to the beach today.

  • I think they're eating pasta for dinner.

  • They're out at the moment, but they will be home around 5 o'clock.


WARNING: You cannot use they're as a shortened confirmation of something. For example:

"Are they watching a movie?" "Yes, they're." - This is incorrect.

"Are they watching a movie?" "Yes, they are." - This is correct.

If you extend the confirmation, it will be grammatically correct, but it will just sound a little strange. For example:

"Are they watching a movie?" "Yes, they're watching a movie." THIS IS CORRECT, but it just sounds a bit strange. In English, we don't normally repeat exactly what someone has said unless we need to, therefore, "Yes, they are." is the best answer to this question.

Where are they now?
They're out by the lake fishing.
How long will they be there for?
They said they're going to be there until they catch a fish... so we probably won't see them until tonight.

 

I hope this has helped you to understand their, there and they're a little better. If you liked this lesson and you want more lessons like it, please comment below and share it with your friends.


Remember to check back every Wednesday for our weekly blog post and every Sunday for our FREE weekly lesson. Sign up here to get an email notification whenever we post something useful for you on our website!


See you next time :)


- Ross