Common Grammar Mistake: They’re Vs Their

A grammar mistake common to ESL students as well as native English speakers is the difference between “they’re” and “their.” While the majority of us can’t really notice the differences between these words in spoken English,  these two words have a totally different meaning in written English. What do you think are their differences?

Let us start unlocking the difference between “they’re” and “their” by learning the meaning of the words first.


“They’re” is actually a contraction of the words “they are”. It is usually found before an adjective or a verb in -ING. 

See this sentence:  They’re eating ice cream.   = They are eating ice cream.

Other examples are:

a. They’re glad to be here.
b. They’re swimming in the sea.
c. They’re asleep.


As previously mentioned, “they’re” and “their” have the same pronunciation. However, “their” is actually the possessive adjective form of “they” which means belonging to them or it belongs to them.

For example:

a. Their class teacher is Miss Mary.
b. Their performance last night was superb!

Homophones: They’re Vs Their Vs There

“They’re” and “Their” have the same pronunciation but did you know that the word “there” is also pronounced the same? In English,  Similar-sounding words are called homophones. Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but have different meanings. These three words are very confusing in written English but never when you read or speak them. Though they have the same pronunciation, it is still very important to remember the meaning of each word so that you will not be confused when you use them when writing something. We are already familiar with the words “they’re” and “their” but what about the word “there?”


“There” is simply the opposite of “here”.

For example, we say:

I am sitting there. I am NOT sitting here.
My room is here and yours is there.

Comprehension Check: They’re and Their and There

Now, since you already know the differences of these words, can you please fill in the blanks using “they’re”, “their” or “there” to complete the sentence?

_____ making ____ assignments together over ________.

The answer is: They’re making their homework together over there.

Check this explanation out:

They’re because we use “they’re” before an adjective or a verb in -ING. The tense of the verb is present continuous/progressive.
Their homework (their is a possessive used before a noun to show possession)
There because it is not in ‘this’ place but in ‘that’ place. NOT here but there. 

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