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If you find they’re, their and there confusing, join the club. Here are some tips to distinguish one from the other.

They're their there table

Note the differences between the three words in this sentence:

They're parking there

If that’s confusing, first use they are, instead of they’re, their or there. If the resulting sentence is correct, then go ahead and use they’re. Why? Because they’re is just a shortcut of they are.

If what results is wrong, do not use they’re.

EXAMPLE: Some teachers believe that they’re/their/there always correct.

Which do we use? Let’s start with they are. Thus: Some teachers believe that they are always correct. Sounds right! So go ahead and use they’re: Some teachers believe that they’re always correct.

EXAMPLE: The students protested to the teacher about they’re/their/there scores.

Tip: Use they are first. Thus: The students protested to the teacher about they are scores. Since this sentence sounds wrong, then do not use they’re. So which do we use?

Tip: Choose their if (i) there is a noun after it and (ii) you can also use other possessives such as my, our or his.

EXAMPLE: The students protested to the teachers about their scores. Sounds right! Because (i) there is a noun scores after their, and you can use other possessives (e.g., The students protested to the teacher about my scores).

What about using there? Note that there is a here in the word there.

Here in there

Tip: If we can use the word here, which also refers to a place or position, then we can use there.

EXAMPLE: What do you see they’re/their/there?

Tip: Can we use here? Let’s try: What do you see here? Yes, we can. So we can use there, thus: What do you see there?

Here’s a lovely photo-explanation from The YUNiversity of Righteous Grammar:

theyuniversitynet photo

Photo credit: Anglais Video

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