You hear the word ‘there’ all the time, or is it ‘their’? Possibly ‘they’re’. When you’re in conversation the context usually makes sense but how do you know which one to use when you’re writing?

Here are the basic rules:

Their is for third person and it’s a possessive adjective. When we see ‘their+ noun’ in a sentence we know that something belongs to one or more people.

Their house was for sale for three years before it sold.  What belongs to them? The house, it is their possession.

If their suits don’t match their shoes Jess is going to lose it. There are two possessions in this sentence: suits and shoes.

Their timing couldn’t have been worse. In this example the possession is a gerund, a verb that acts as a noun, in this case timing.

There is used to indicate location that is not here and for expressing existing nouns.

The cereal isle is over there. This indicated direction as to where the cereal

There are three tacos left. Would you like one? This indicates the remaining tacos

They’re = they are, a contraction for subject (they) + verb (to be)

They’re going surfing next weekend = They are going surfing next weekend

They’re really excited to meet Shauna = They are really excited to meet Shauna

To recap:

Their Third person possessive adjective
There Location and existing nouns
They’re Subject + verb to be

 

Now that you have this guide to refer to you can write like a pro!