Friday, July 2, 2010

Their, They're and There

Many people that I've met have struggled with grammar all their lives. They're intimidated by its annoying rules and it's ever-changing weirdness. It's true; grammar can be a fickle thing, with similar-looking words, changing letter sounds and confusing bits of words that are hard to remember (what's IS an adjective?)

Fortunately for you, I'm not here to beat you over the head with confusing things that seem useless. From now into the foreseeable future, I'm going to try to present simple lessons, minus all of that confusing grammar-jargon. Think of me as your private tutor, except you don't pay me. Or see me.


I find that most people don't have the time, energy or patience to read writing books or take writing classes, so this is for those of you who want a low-impact lesson in grammar.

Every few days I'll try to cover something different that people have problems with. Today's lesson is all about They're, Their and There.

I find that it's easier to understand things in their proper context, so here are a few illustrations.

They're there, and their dinner is there.

“There” means “in, at, or to that place or position,” according to Webster's Dictionary. Examples:

“Lets go over there.”

“There you are!”

“They're” is a contraction of “they are.” If you're not sure which word to use (or what a contraction is), try writing out both words normally to see if you should use the contraction. Example (contractions underlined)

I'm in love with you. = I am in love with you.

They're gonna get me into trouble. = They are gonna get me into trouble.

I don't know what they're gonna do! = I do not know what they are gonna do!

(Interesting information: If you want to see a movie that contains no or practically no contractions, watch George Lucas's Star Wars prequels. Or better yet, don't watch them.)

Their,” is possessive. (Their cat was gray.)

Still a little foggy? Check your understanding of the three different words!

(Some sentences have no mistakes!) Copy the test into your favorite word processor and see if you can correct the errors. I promise that it's not hard. I'll post the answers in the next blog update.

Their they are.

They're they were.

There were nice people their.

I see what you did there.

They're very nice people.

The neighbors were nice, but their food was so strange that it couldn't have been from they're country.

Their very nice people.

They're was nothing to it.

They're their, and they're dinner is theirs.

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