Monday, February 2, 2009

Today's lesson: They're, their and there

Reading has occupied much of my scarce spare time lately. It takes a lot to irritate me, but the recent spate of misusing the words there, their and they’re has steam rolling out my ears. So, here’s today’s lesson on the proper usage of there, their and they’re.

First – THEY’RE

This is a contraction. It means they are. That’s all it is – ever!

Second – THERE

The primary use of there is as a location. “It’s there.” “Go over there.” They live there.”

As an adverb, it is:
1. used to introduce sentences in which a state, fact etc is being announced. "There has been an accident at the factory; There seems to be something wrong; I don't want there to be any mistakes in this. "

2. means at that time; at that point in a speech, argument etc. "There I cannot agree with you; Don't stop there – tell me what happened next!"

3 (with the subject of the sentence following the verb except when it is a pronoun) used at the beginning of a sentence, usually with be or go, to draw attention to, or point out, someone or something. "There she goes now! There it is! "

4 (placed immediately after noun) used for emphasis or to point out someone or something. "That book there is the one you need."

As an interjection, it is
1 used to calm or comfort. "There, now. Things aren't as bad as they seem."

2 used when a person has been shown to be correct, when something bad happens, or when something has been completed. "There! I told you he would do it! There! That's that job done. There! I said you would hurt yourself!"

The primary point here is; there is not a person or persons – ever!

Third – THEIR

This is a possessive form of THEY

As an adjective

1 belonging to them. "This is their car. Take a note of their names and addresses."

2 used instead of his, his or her etc where a person of unknown sex or people of both sexes are referred to. " Everyone should buy his own ticket. Everyone should buy their own ticket."

As a pronoun,
a person, thing etc belonging to them. "The child is theirs. He’s a friend of theirs. He’s one of their friends."

Their is not a location – ever!

Please, please, please – I beg you – use them correctly.

All assistance courtesy of

Are you using these words correctly? What word misuse sends steam rolling from your ears?


Clair Dickson said...

should of, would of could of irritate the stuffing out of me. And I see it all the time when grading my alternative high school kids' papers. =(

Robin said...

Oh, man - I'm going to go reread all of my blogs and make sure I'm not the culprit. I think I'm OK with the "there, their, they're" controversy. I often end sentences with "it" or "as". I correct these errors if I'm formally writing, (a book, letter, or paper), but if I'm just fooling around on a blog, I'll let them stand.

Jeni said...

Ok -do typos count in making steam roll out your ears? If so, I might have inadvertently been an offender but the thing is I DO KNOW the correct usage but sometimes -like in the heat of passion or fast typing may put the wrong one in my text. If I happen to re-read a sentence and see my error, I do correct it but you know how it goes when editing your own stuff too -tend to have things slip by the old eyeballs then.
I hate seeing It's and its used interchangeably and thus, incorrectly. There are a few others that set my teeth on edge but can't think of them right off hand now.

The Anti-Wife said...

I cringe just thinking of this!

Awareness is the key. Now that you know you will be punished for breaking the rules.

We all make typos and since blogger has yet to incorporate spell check, those are forgiveable.

Mary Witzl said...

I've got 'they're', 'their', and 'there' down pat, but as I sit and correct student compositions, the steam rolls from my ears in great abundance. I've got students who use 'I's' for 'my'. Sigh. They know better, believe me -- it's just laziness.

I'm a grammar nerd and I can't bear hearing 'I' used for 'me'. An acquaintance once corrected me when I said "Want to go there with XX and me?" She felt it would be more polite for me to use 'I' there; she didn't even get it when I quipped, "Want to go there with I?" Sad but true.

Chris Eldin said...

My pet peeve is the incorrect use of "its" vs. "it's"

cindy said...

ha! thanks for the lesson. my esl has not hindered from telling these three apart. tho i do have trouble in other areas.

twice during edits, i used "belie" wrong. thank goodness the copyeditor pointed it out in the final passes!

Anonymous said...

Their their now, don't get yourselve all up in a lather. There just trying to get they're point across. The rules doesn't apply to them.

Anon. Sis. of AW

cindy said...

your you're its it's that doesn't bother me so much.

my biggest peeve?


Britta Coleman said...

Scan/Skim. I learned the difference at age 8 reading Encyclopedia Brown. Amazing how often scan is misused as a synonym for skim.

Mary Witzl said...

Anti-wife, are you still there? Come back to us!

Barbara Martin said...

I understand your annoyance, yet it continues.

John Elder Robison said...

Thank you for helping us get they're words strate.


sexy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leigh Russell said...

Clair said it for me, word for word.

Anonymous said...

Moot and Mute - they are not interchangeable and should never be used that way. It drives me nuts when someone says - the point is mute when he/she means MOOT!

Chris Eldin said...

YoooHOooo! Where are you!
Please come back!!! We miss you...

Demon Hunter said...

I came back to find you missing. Where are you? :-)

Penny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Penny said...

"If I was ..."

"I could care less."