They sound so similar and, as one of the most common grammar mistakes, they trip a lot of people up. When I see it used incorrectly, it makes me want to scream. What is the heinous crime I talk about? It's improper use of they're/their/there.

Now, before we get into this blog. I need to hold my hands up as being guilty of this crime. Typing too fast, and my brain being on autopilot is my poor excuse.

Thankfully, my crimes are usually picked up by reading back over my work, the proofreading process or my wife telling me to change my Facebook post.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we, and my autopilot brain, just got it right first time?

Let’s look at the basics of how we all can tackle the ‘they’re, their, there problem’.


"They're" is a contraction "they are".

Example: They're not going to want to hear this, but choosing the right words matter.

Ask yourself, can I use "they are" to replace the contraction? If not, move on to another option.


"Their" comes from the word "they". It's a possessive pronoun that shows ownership of a noun.

Example: Writers must choose their words carefully when sharing their ideas.

Ask yourself, do I mean to show possession? Does the noun belong to the subject?

If not and "they are" isn’t right, the third choice is what you are looking for.


"There" is a place, point, or interjection. If you do not intend to say "they are" or show possession, "there" is the go to word.


  • Carl Cox is DJ’ing on the stage over there.
  • There, I told you Carl Cox is DJ’ing.
  • We got to the stage too late; there was no time to hear Carl Cox’s set.

So, please. For grammar lovers, readers and Carl Cox fans everywhere, know the difference. Once you’ve mastered it, you can be as lucky as me and be given this wonderful valentines card.

Their, they're, there, Valentine's cardSource: BettieConfetti

Steve Linney

Steve Linney has been a marketer for the last twenty years, covering a diverse number of sectors. Including e-learning, the music industry, and corporate responsibility.