Streamed live on Nov 27, 2012
Ah. The they’re, their and there quandry. I used them all in the title of this post in their proper sense. Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?
This is a contraction of ‘they are.’ If you think you need to use this in a sentence, you can test it out by replacing it with ‘they are’ to see if it still works.
They’re looking at me.
They are looking at me.
See? You should be able to interchange them easily and the sentence still makes sense.
This is a possessive. The word tells you that whatever you’re talking about belongs to them. Their toys, their car, their vegetables… see?
Their tomatoes were ripe and juicy.
The tomatoes belonged to them, not me. I would certainly buy those tomatoes from them if they are really that good.
This word is used to describe placement.
They parked the car over there.
It can also be used with variations of the verb ‘to be’.
There are apples all over the ground.
See? It is paired with ‘are,’ which is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be.’
It really is very simple if you take a moment to think about it when you write. In these types of grammatical cases, it is best to rely on your brain than on spell checkers found in many programs. I often get flags on my writing with these three words in MS Word when I am using them correctly. The program wants me to change it to they’re in most cases, which would not be correct for the sentence I wrote. If ever in doubt, just do this quick little test and you’ll know you used the correct one.
John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.