When to Use There, Their, and They’re

By eContent Pro on Jan 17, 2017
When to Use There, Their, and They’re

There, their, they’re. Words that sound the same when spoken can often cause headaches while writing. To assist you with determining which form of the word “there” is correct in your sentence, we have taken a look at each form and broken it down by its meaning, examples, and tricks to assist you in determining which form to use in your sentences.

Correct Usage of There

With this spelling, “there” is used to refer to a location, place, or existence of something. A way to test for the correct usage of this form would be to substitute the word here. Let’s look at some examples.

  • The dog is over there.
  • The dog is over here.

Both of these sentences are correct, so you can tell that you have used the proper form of this word.

  • There house is on the way.
  • Here house is on the way.

In this example, the second sentence doesn’t sound quite right, so can tell that you have used the incorrect form of “there.”

This form can also be used as a way to call attention to someone or something, such as “Hey there!” or “Look at the ducks over there”. With this form, imagine yourself accompanying your sentence with a pointing gesture. If you cannot imagine this gesture, or if the gesture does not feel right with your sentence, you have probably used there incorrectly.

Correct Usage of Their

This form of our word is used to show possession of an item. To check if you have used this form correctly, try replacing it with the word our in your sentence.

  • Let’s walk to their house.
  • Let’s walk to our house.

The second sentence in this example is correct, so you have used the correct form.

  • Please move the desk over their.
  • Please move the desk over our.

In this case, the second sentence does not make sense when you switch their with our, so you know that you have used the incorrect form.

Correct Usage of They’re

Finally, they’re is the contraction, or shortened form of writing, for they are. To test the usage of this form, replace the contraction with the full words they are.

  • They’re coming with us on our walk.
  • They are coming with us on our walk.

Both of these sentences are correct, so the contraction they’re is appropriate to use in this example.

  • The bird’s nest is in that tree over they’re.
  • The bird’s nest is in that tree over they are.

In this case, the full phrase they are does not make sense when it is substituted into the sentence. You would need to take another look at this and add the correct form of our word.

Choosing the Correct Form(s) in Complex Sentences

In each of our examples above, the sentences were fairly straightforward and only used one form of “there.” Let’s take a look at some more complicated examples, and see if we can use our tests from above to figure out which form is correct.

  • Let’s help them move they’re couch over their.
  • Let’s help them move they are couch over our.

You can see here that when we make our substitutions to test our sentence, it no longer makes sense, so we can tell that we have used the incorrect form. The correct sentence would be: “Let’s help them move their couch over there.”

  • There coming over with they’re dog.
  • Here coming over with they are dog.

Once again, our sentence does not make sense once we substitute our test words. We will need to fix these sentences in our writing. The correct sentence would be: “They’re coming over with their dog.”

  • They’re putting their bags on the cart over there.
  • They are putting our bags on the cart over here.

When we substitute our test words in this example, our sentence still makes sense. We have used each form of the word “there” correctly in this example.

Final Thoughts on There, Their, and They’re

To determine which of these forms you should use in your sentence, try completing the following tests:

  • Is your sentence referring to a specific location or thing? If so, try replacing there with here.
  • Is your sentence showing possession? Try replacing their with our.
  • Are you combining the words they and are? Try replacing your word with they are.

Some additional tips to help you remember which form is correct.

Take a look at the spelling of the words themselves. There refers to a location, and the word here is tucked into the word. Their is used to show possession, and the word heir is hidden inside the word. If you are an heir, you have taken possession of an item. They’re stands for they are, and is easy to test by adding in the full words.

If you are unsure of yourself with these words, allow eContent Pro to help. Our professionally trained editorial team will review your document and bring any uses of the incorrect form of “there” to your attention. Learn more about our copy editing and proofreading services.

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