There, Their, and They’re: Difference, Meaning, and Examples

Grammar Rules updated on  September 7, 2023 3 min read

Here’s the right way to use these three words:

  1. There shows location or existence
  2. Their shows possession
  3. They’re shows condition (they are)

The difference between there, their, and they’re isn’t clear from their pronunciations since they’re homophones, but they’re definitely not interchangeable. Let’s look at what they mean one by one and explore how to use them so you can learn to tell them apart.

What do there, their, and they're mean?

There meaning and usage

There has several meanings, all showing where something is or that it exists.

there (adv.): at a certain place, time, stage, or way; as it is

Please have a seat right there.

Is anyone there?

It was easy until we had to vote for a leader; there was where we fell apart.

There, I said it.

there (pron.): used as an introductory word or to address a person directly

There are many reasons to eat more veggies.

Cyd looked for a chance to speak up, but there wasn’t one.

Well, hello there. How are you?

there (n.): a certain place or time (literal or figurative)

It’s time to start, so let’s go in there.

Where do we go from there?

To get to the dining room, we have to walk through there.

there (adj.): used for emphasis or to show physical or mental presence

That there lawn mower is the worst one I’ve ever had.

Fatima’s mom was always there for her.

After the accident, he was so traumatized that he was not all there.

Their  meaning and usage

Their has only one meaning: possession. It can be singular or plural.

their (adj.): belonging to or related to a person or thing

It’s great to meet your friends! What are their names?

Their new company just launched last month.

Thanks to their having already finished the research proposal, Malik and Omar were ahead of schedule.

They’re meaning and usage

They’re also has only one meaning, showing what kind of condition or state a person or thing is in or what they are doing.

they’re (contr.): they are

They’re not ready to leave yet.

Can you tell me when they’re planning to work on the next project?

If they’re in the room alone, Iggy and Shea can’t be trusted.

Remember, if you’re writing for school, it’s best to avoid contractions. You should spell out they are every time in formal writing. But if you’re working on a creative writing piece, such as a poem or novel, you can use either one.

For the times when you’re still confused about there vs. their vs. they’re, QuillBot’s Grammar Checker comes to the rescue. Just type or paste your text into its editing box, and it’ll instantly tell you whether you’ve got it right.

But even if you feel sure you’ve chosen the right word, it’s good to have a backup tool that can confirm your choice and spot other kinds of errors you might not have noticed.

Choosing the right word

Their vs. there? Their vs. they’re? It’s another one of those questions that even native English speakers often grapple with. We can sum up the explanations above into a few quick memory tips to help you use them correctly:

  • There has a similar spelling to the other location words here and where.
  • Their contains I, so think of it as showing something is mine, representing possession.
  • They’re has an apostrophe, so it’s a contraction of they are.

As you write, think carefully about which word is the right one, and don’t forget to enlist the help of free tools like QuillBot to keep commonly confused words straight, perfect your punctuation, or reword sentences, and more.

Writers who use QuillBot find there are no problems with their writing by the time they’re done with it!

What is the difference between there and their?

Writers and speakers use there to show where something or someone is or to show that it exists. But they use their to show that an object or person belongs to or is related to another object or person.

Is it their are or there are?

The correct phrase is there are because their shows possession, while there shows location or existence.

How do you use they're in a sentence?

They’re is a contraction of they are, so use it in any place you would say they are. Here’s an example: Itzhak wants his classmates to read his work, but they’re already reading another paper.


Hannah Skaggs

Along with Paige Pfeifer

Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content.

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