There, Their, They’re…It’s Not That Hard


It really isn't.

Few homophones cause as much confusion and chaos as there, their and they’re. The problem, of course, is that our brains are so stuffed with vital information–Olympic curling team stats, disco song lyrics, ways to get cranberry juice stains out of deep pile carpet–how are we supposed to keep such trivial garbage straight?

Well, I’ll tell you how. Let’s start with there. How to remember it? There‘s opposite, here, is inside the word. So when you want to get to there, you start here. And then slap a T on the beginning of it. Simple, right?

They’re is easy too. It’s a contraction of they and are. The apostrophe stands in for the a in are. So when you’re trying to decide which of the three to use, just take a moment to think about what you’re saying and imagine that understudy apostrophe stepping in when the a has a sore throat and can’t belt out “They’re Playing Our Song.”

Think of their as the crazy aunt your grandma kept locked in the attic–or Boo Radley, if you like–and remember that it just doesn’t make any sense, like much of the English language. But once you know the first two, this third oddball is easy.

So do your part to clean up the blogosphere and commit these three to memory.

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