The Difference between Their vs. They’re and Other Errors

One of the common mistakes of people writing with the English language is distinguishing their vs. they’re.

Things to Remember when Using Their vs. They’re

black framed eyeglasses on book page above a table
Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash


The word “their” is a possessive pronoun that refers to people or things. For example, “I borrowed their book yesterday”. “Their” is used with singular nouns. It’s also useful with plural nouns when the referring object possesses a quality or quantity in common with the nouns or pronoun. For example, “Bring your own bag to make it easier on themselves”.

In general, “their” is accepted in plural form, but it is increasingly accepted after words such as someone:

“Someone left their dog near the restaurant”.

There is a word heir in the word their, which can be used as a reminder that it indicates ownership.

“Their” is the possessive form of they, meaning it belongs to them.

A noun follows the phrase and is used to represent possession when using the word their.


“They’re” is a contraction of “they are”. You might hear people say “they’re off the leash” or “they’re all old,” which are incorrect sentences. “They’re” is a possessive pronoun, which means it takes the place of a noun like “their”. “They’re” is a contraction of “they are”.

It’s a contraction of the words they and are, which indicates that the persons (they) are carrying out the action (learning).

Their vs. They’re

Students make a mistake by differing between “their”, and “they’re”. This happens because the words sound the same; they’re called homophones.

Homophones are words that sound the same, but are also different in meaning (and sometimes spelling) As a consequence, “they’re”, “theirs”, and Homophones.

These homophones both have different meanings, and different spellings. If we want to determine which version to use, we must look at what context tells us.

We can explore the correct usages of the three even though they sound the same, but they aren’t spelled the same.

“They’re” contains an apostrophe, because it’s a contraction from the word “They are”. Meanwhile, “their” is a word itself that pertains to a possession.

To Wrap Up

Now you know about the difference of “their” and “they’re”. Remember, that there exists an “heir” in the word “their” which will let you know that it’s meant for possessive purposes.

Meanwhile, “they’re” has an apostrophe, pertaining to the fragment “they are” which aims to describe an action or characteristics of a plural pronoun.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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