There vs They’re vs Their – Which to Choose? When to Use?

These words sound the same, but have totally different meanings. And if you keep confusing them with one another in your essays, then:

  • Your grade will suffer
  • Your professor will think that you didn’t go to a good school  🙂
  • It will be hard for you to make a good impression with your writing

So, you need to be able to distinguish how to spell each of these in each case. And that’s what we’ll focus on today. I’ll teach you how to remember which one is which and how to spell it perfectly every time.


This one is easy. Just remember that it asks the question: Where?

Where?   There.

These words are spelled almost the same way, except the first letter. So, whenever you’re about to write the word There, and you’re not sure if this is the correct spelling, just ask yourself if this word answers the question Where? Easy enough?

For example:

Many students went to school there. (Where?  There.)

They’re and Their

Both are formed out of the word THEY. But what is the difference?

Here’s one key thing to remember:

The apostrophe often splices two separate words together:

It is = It’s

They have = They’ve

It has been – It’s been

They are = They’re

Get it? So, the only case you would use an apostrophe with something that sounds like There, Their, or They’re is when you really mean THEY ARE, and then you would use They’re.

Why? Because you’re splicing two words together: They and the verb To Be:

They Are = They’re

Use this combination a couple of times, and you’ll never forget it.


This leaves us with Their. And, just so you know, this is a possessive. A possessive means that someone possesses something. In this case, THEY possess something:

  1. Their Toys
  2. Their Books
  3. They forgot their plans.
  4. People repeat their mistakes.

That’s it. Just read this over and understand this stuff once. Once you understand this and apply a couple of times in your writing, you’ll never forget it.

Here are your takeaways:

  • There, Their, and They’re mean totally different things
  • There answers the question Where?
  • They’re is really two words in one: They and Are
  • Their means it belongs to Them (They have a cat = Their cat)

Questions? Comments? Post’em here.

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil is an e-learning professional who helps adult learners finish their degrees by teaching them academic writing skills.

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