Don’t Be Scared of Homophones! Part 2: “there” versus “their” versus “they’re”

Those nasty homophones. Why do they torment us so with their soundalike-ness when they’re all spelled differently? And why can’t we ever remember the right one to use?

If you joined us for Part 1 – the death match battle between “it’s” and “its,” welcome back.

We’ve got the big granddaddy of them all today – the epic three-way struggle that continues to confound people around the globe. Yep, that’s right, we’re talking about that tri-nasty head scratcher: there, their and they’re.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Probably the easiest way to begin is by separating the odd man out, which is “they’re.” Like “it’s,” this is a contraction, so if you can replace it in a sentence with its uncontracted version, “they are,” you’re using the right one.

Example – “They’re flying to Mars to pick up groceries” can be replaced by “They are flying to Mars to pick up groceries,” so we’ve used the right one!

As far as “their/there,” think of “there” being related to place and remember that it contains the word “here.” Once you do that, you’ll know which one to use.

Example – If you’re writing, “Put the book over there,” replace the last word with, “here” and, obviously, “there” is the correct choice.

On the other hand, “their” also contains its own word: “heir.” An heir is someone who will, eventually, own something through inheritance. Similarly, “their” also implies ownership, as in “their monkey sandwich.” So, if you’re referring to something that someone owns, use the one that has the word “heir” in it.

Hope that helped you sort out these three troublesome bad boys.

Which homophones do you have the most problems with? Let me know and, in future posts, I’ll try to come up with some easy ways to help you remember the right ones to use. Or maybe you have an easy way of remembering some tricky homophones yourself? I hope you’ll share them with my readers and me – we could all use the help!

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