There, Their, or They're?

What Is the Difference between "There," "Their," and "They're"?

homeconfused wordsThere, Their, or They're?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

Do not confuse there, their, and they're. That would be a serious mistake.

They're is short for they are.
Their shows possession. It's just like my, his, her, and our.
There is a place. It's similar to here.

They're, Their, and There

You must not confuse they're, their, and there. A mistake involving these is a grammatical howler.


They're is a contraction (i.e., a shortened version) of they are. (In the contraction they're, the apostrophe replaces the letter a and the two words are merged into one.)
hot grammar tip

Hot Tip


Only use they're if you can substitute it with they are.

  • They're not leaving on Saturday now.
  • (Test: "They are not leaving on Saturday now.")

  • I cannot believe they're from Wigan.
  • (Test: "I cannot believe they are from Wigan.")

  • More than 20 people left they're coats in the cloakroom.
  • (Test: "More than 20 people left they are coats in the cloakroom."
    This is nonsense. Therefore, they're is wrong.)

    Making a there/their/they're mistake can undermine your credibility. How would you react to this office sign? (It should be their not they're.)

  • My doctor gave me two weeks to live. I hope they're in August. (Ronnie Shakes)
  • (Test: "I hope they are in August.")

  • Things are only impossible until they're not. (Jean-Luc Picard)
  • (Test: "Things are only impossible until they are not.")


Their is used to show possession. It is like my, your, his, her, its, and our. These are called possessive adjectives.)

hot grammar tip

Hot Tip


Here is a little trick to test whether their is correct:

Use the word our instead of their. If the sentence still makes sense, then their is almost certainly correct. This trick works because our and their are both possessive adjectives used for plurals.

  • Can you show the guests to their cabins?
  • (Test: "Can you show the guests to our cabins?"
    This sounds okay. Therefore, their is correct.)

  • I have seen their footprints before.
  • (Test: "I have seen our footprints before."
    This sounds okay. Therefore, their is correct.)

  • Their all leaving.
  • (Test: "Our all leaving."
    This is nonsense. Therefore, their is wrong. It should be They're.)

  • Their less likely to cause offence.
  • (Test: "Our less likely to cause offence."
    This is nonsense. Therefore, their is wrong. It should be They're.)

  • Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes. (Oscar Wilde)


The word there is similar to the word here in that it represents a place. (There and here are adverbs of place).

There has two uses:

(1) It is used to denote a specific place.
  • She is there.
(2) It is used to denote that something exists.
  • There are two apples.
Some more examples:
  • The Germans are over there.
  • (specific place)

  • There is a good reason I'm not attending the party this year.
  • (a reason exists)

  •  Simon repeated himself: "They're unqualified, and their opinions counted for nothing while they were their."
  • (The last their should be there as it denotes a specific place.)

A Quick Test

hot grammar tip

Hot Tip


As a general rule, try to avoid words like they're and doesn't in formal letters. Always expand them to they are and does not.

(See lesson Apostrophes.)

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