There, Their, They’re

Proofreading_and_editing_blog_46These three words are the cause of much grief, but it is simple to check whether you have the right one.

The theory

Their shows ownership. Their house, their story.  Sometimes if there are more than one owner use theirs, eg that version of the story is theirs.

There is an adverb indicating place, such as the book is there. There is a place just like here, which is in the word to remind us. There’s is a short version of there is.

They’re is a shortened form of they are.

The test

Simply make a substitution & see if you still have a sensible sentence. If you do, you have the correct form:

  • If you have written there, substitute here. Example: Over there is a blue one.
  • If you have written their, substitute our. Example: Their car is blue.
  • If you have written they’re, substitute they are. Example: They’re the blue ones.

So if you’d written:

They’re car is blue.

To test it you would substitute they are, resulting in:

They are car is blue.

Which makes no sense.

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And of course the title of this post is the punchline of an old joke.

How do you annoy a grammar pedant? Say …

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About The Proof Angel

I am a freelance editor and proofreader. I work with a wide range of clients, from companies to self publishing authors. I can help you to communicate clearly in print or on line by providing a fresh pair of eyes, carrying out a final check, or by suggesting ideas to improve the flow of your message.
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2 Responses to There, Their, They’re

  1. ldlagarino says:

    I have more trouble with “affect” and “effect.” For the most part, I use “affect” as a verb, and “effect” as a noun, but there are instances when “affect” can be used as a noun, and “effect” can be used as a verb. It confuses me even after reading the dictionary definitions.

    • I know just what you mean. It is all very well thinking “Remember Affect Verb, Effect Noun” or RAVEN, but it isn’t really as easy as that, as you say. Probably safer to use another word if we can!

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