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August 2018
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The many faces of “there.”

 

Oh, the many faces of  there, they’re and their.  This is the homophone that I most often see being used incorrectly.  I am probably guilty of having messed the spelling up a time or two myself while trying to get writing done with too little sleep, or most likely not enough coffee.  Either way, it is a common mistake to make, and one that does not pop up on spell check either.  Luckily, it is not too hard to remedy.  I will try to break it down so it’s a bit easier to understand, and hopefully easy to remember as well.

There

Often, this spelling is used as an adverb to show direction: “The coffee maker is over there.”  (Yes, again with the coffee. I’m decidedly one track that way.)  Or, “Let’s go over there, by the coffee pot.”

It can be used as a pronoun:  “There will be hell to pay is she forgets to bring the coffee.”  Or in place of a noun: “Hello, there!  Did you bring me an espresso?”

It can be used as an exclamation:  “There! I brought your darn coffee!”

I have seen it used in a more vernacular sense to offer comfort:  “There, there, dear.  Everything will be okay.  We can make more coffee.”

They’re

This is actually a contraction of they and are: “They’re bringing us some coffee .”   “They’re the best of friends.”

The hint here is that if you can use they are in the sentence, then use they’re versus there for the proper spelling.

Their

This spelling is the possessive case of they, which means that is shows ownership, and is often used as an adjective before a noun: “That is their coffee.”

Or, it is used in place of him or her to be more indefinite:  “Someone left their coffee on the table.”

 

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