Friday, January 15, 2010

Common Confusables: They’re, There, & Their

They're, they're now, their all here. They're's no need to worry anymore.

Here's a set of words that we get right all the time in speech.

Every time we say any of them, we're using the right one because no one can see how those words are spelled. When we write, though, getting one of them wrong makes us look like we're a few letters short of an alphabet. So let's work to get them right, shall we?

They're

This one is the easiest, I think, because it's a contraction. Contractions are shortened forms of two words. A few examples:

  • Don't = do not
  • Aren't = are not
  • It's = it is

Simple, right? Well, there're is just a contraction of there are. So if there are would be correct in what you're writing, then go ahead and use they're.

There

This form is directional, basically. It points to something. It's not over here, it's over there.

Their

This form is possessive, meaning somebody owns somethin', and it probably ain't me. So if it ain't mine, and it ain't yours, it must be theirs. Am I right, people? Of course I am!

Oh, and by the way. The word "ain't" is perfectly acceptable grammatically. Sure, some people frown on its use, but it's a colloquial term, meaning its use in formal settings should be avoided.

But this blog is rather informal, don't you think, and so using a colloquialism would be acceptable. Besides which, it's my blog and I happen to like the word.

So there.