How do you comfort grammar snobs? Pat them on the back and say, their, there. You see, they’re easily comforted, but you have to get it in writing because those words sound alike. Their shows possession (their car is on fire), there is a direction (there is the burning car), and they’re is short for “they are” (they’re driving into the lake).
Their is a possessive pronoun, so if Madonna and Cher own a car, it’s their car. If Cher owns it by herself, it’s hers. Back off, Madonna.Their is co-owned by the “e” and “i,” and it breaks the “i” before “e” rule. Sometimes their is used instead of singular his or her, as in “Who blew their nose so loudly?” But that can be awkward.Their in the wild:
“Their Eyes Were Watching God“ (novel by Zora Neal Hurston, 1937)
“The precocity of the group, the show, and their playwriting skills is not surprising, of course.” (Huffington Post)
There, there , don’t be discouraged. “Here” and there are directions — there is “here” with a “t” because you have to go a little farther to get from here to there. “Here” and there can never be the subjects of a sentence, by the way. In the sentence, “There is Cher’s car,” there points to the subject, which is “car.” Here are some there‘s from the world:
“Ten years ago, he went back there with an ex-girlfriend. (The Guardian)
“There may seem no obvious reason why not.” (Time)
They’re always means “they are,” so if you can replace they’re with “they are” then you’ve spelled it correctly. Woohoo! The apostrophe stands in for the missing “a.” Replace “they are” for they’re in these examples and see that it works!
“They’re here!” (Poltergeist, 1982)
“They’re Coming to Take Me Away” (song by Napoleon XIV, 1966)
If you get them mixed up, do a quick check: in your head, replace there with “here”; replacetheir with “our”; and they’re with “they are.” If it all makes sense, you got them right!
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