Good Grammar!

Do you struggle with semicolons? Are you tense about tenses? Get silly about synonyms and apoplectic about apostrophes?

Good Grammar! is here to clear up confusion, break bad habits and help you make a good impression. This occasional series of grammar tips is guaranteed to make you a better writer.

Their, there now.

Posted by on Nov 27, 2011 in Good Grammar | 0 comments

Or is it “they’re there”?

They’re, there and their are homonyms: they sound alike but have different meanings and spellings. How do you keep them straight? (Or is it strait?)

Consider how the word is being used and think about what can be substituted for it. This will guide you as you’re spelling.

  • They’re: the contraction of “they are.” If you can substitute “they are” in your sentence, use “they’re.”
  • There: either a place (“We went there.”) or a pronoun that stands in for an ensuing noun (“There is a reason.”). If you can substitute “here” and your sentence still makes sense, use “there”—and remember, there’s a “here” in “there.”
  • Their: the possessive case of “they.” It’s a pronoun that modifies a noun, so it functions as an adjective (“Their [hats/memories/regrettable behavior] …”). If you can substitute “our,” use “their.”