Creatiwriter64's Blog

Just another weblog

  • Categories

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,368 hits
  • Archives

  • Flickr Photos

  • Advertisements

Distinction: ‘There,’ ‘Their’ and ‘They’re’.

Posted by CW64 on October 14, 2012

In my education and experience as a writer and editor, I have noticed many misuses of words, especially common words. Such erroneous practices have become prevalent in the writing community and continue to stand out in my mind as something both serious and disturbing. For that reason, I have decided to write an ongoing series of articles, called simply “Distinctions,” which will explain the differences between the featured terms and how they are or should be used in writing. At the end of each article, I will provide either a quiz or set of exercises for readers to test their knowledge and skills. Hopefully, this ongoing effort will allow said readers to gain something to help them be better writers.

In this post, I focus on ‘there,’ ‘their’ and ‘they’re,’ three words that are similar in pronunciation but whose respective meanings are quite unrelated.


The most misconstrued of these three is ‘there,’ a term that writers apply generically for in cases requiring any one of the three in question.

This particular form has two viable uses: (1) an adverb indicating general location or calling attention to something or someone, and (2) as a pronoun in a sentence where the verb precedes its subject. (See here)

Adverb: Location Reference


Becky is at Dean’s house; she spends all of her time there.
The book is over there.

The term ‘there’ serves as a means of indicating without stating specification, which is sometimes considered lazy but is acceptable if its reference is clear because it avoids repetition. In the first example above, the term ‘there’ has a particular reference: Dean’s house”; in the second, the location of the book is unknown without further information. Perhaps the object in question is lying on someone’s bed, on a desk or table, on a shelf, in the garbage can or even being used by someone else at the time the speaker points out its location. In any case, ‘there’ serves the same function and purpose in both cases: as an adverb establishing the whereabouts of a noun discussed in the sentence in which it is mentioned. In the first instance, that noun is the object; in the latter it is the subject.

Adverb: Attention-Getter


“I am right, so there!”
“There you go!”

In these instances, ‘there’ serves as a verbal reference that functions as a means of emphasizing a point made by the speaker and/or the end of a discussion.

Pronoun: ‘There’ Sentences

As common as they are, ‘there’ sentences are generally considered weak and inadvisable. Still, ‘there’ can be used to introduce a sentence in which the verb precedes its subject.


There is no hope.

In this case, ‘hope’ is the subject-noun to which the verb ‘is’ refers.

Yes, people DO speak this way, but grammarians and editors alike suggest revising the sentence so that the subject is concrete and the meaning of the sentence goes unaffected and/or unaltered, as in:

[All] hope is lost.

The above revision is clear and concise, and the subject is specific and identifiable.

As a general rule, writers are to employ minimal use of ‘there’ sentences for reasons given above; concrete/active sentences are usually the strongest to use. Readers prefer direct statements with a well-defined subject, as in The picture remains uncolored or The film is black and white as opposed to There is no color in the picture/film.

The exception to the above rule is dialogue. As said, people use ‘there’ sentences (“there is/are/was/were”) quite often in everyday speech, and so dialogue should reflect that. Of course, fiction and creative non-fiction are distinct in style from non-fiction, such as news reporting and research. Still, ‘there’ sentences are usually but not always a big no-no in formal compositions; ‘concrete/active’ form is routinely preferred here as well.


This form is a possessive variation for the plural pronoun “they,” nothing more. (See here)

Possessive Pronoun


Their house
Their yard
Their studies
Their term papers
Their rights as citizens
Their music style

As seen, each of the instances above clarifies ownership of something, usually concrete but always specific. Possessive expressions can serve as either the subject or object of a sentence:

Subject: Their house caught fire last week.
Object: I really love their music style.

In the first example, the possessive expression serves as the subject of the sentence; in the second, the object.

This term (possessive pronoun) is formally referred to as the ‘attributive adjective’ and used to place an entity in a particular context or reference point. Take the following examples:

Their arrival in Paris
Their yard work leaves much to be desired.

This instance (i.e. function) doesn’t sound possessive, but it is in the sense that it refers descriptively to a condition applied to said entity. Hence: the term ‘attributive adjective.’

One application as denoted at the link above serves as a source of contention for me, and that is the use of “their” as a neutral correlative for single references:

The group is in their last phase of study.

The word “group,” though implicitly comprised of several members, is a single body of individuals and is therefore a single noun (others include ‘committee’ and ‘Republican Party’). IT should take a singular pronoun-reference so that number, as the grammar rule (and common sense) dictates, remains consistent. Which singular pronoun-reference should IT take, you might ask? Hmm, let me think a moment. . .

Apparently, however, this form is acceptable now, especially in casual speech and when gender is not specified, as in . . .

That person has stripped all of their clothes in the middle of winter. They must be thick-skinned..

Composing sentences clearly enough will allow writers to avoid this conundrum. For example, all one has to do is simply restate “that person” as “that man,” which in turn changes “their clothes” to “his clothes” and “they” to “him.” The revised sentence would then read:

That man has stripped all of his clothes in the middle of winter. He must be thick-skinned.

Now, the sentences are consistent in number and grammatical in form.


This form is self-explanatory, yet is always botched. Why? I have my theories, but I don’t wish to generalize or offend, so I won’t venture there.

Simply put, ‘they’re’ is the contracted form of “they are” and “they were,” and is the only one of the three that takes on a verb status (i.e. doesn’t require a verb). (See here)



They’re going out tonight.
They’re in the semi-finals this year.
They’re Asian.

Enough said.

Combined Forms

Writers can combine these three forms in single sentences, but the distinctions must be understood before doing so, otherwise sentence(s) will appear and read awkward.

Consider this conundrum:

John and Jenny renovated they’re home this summer, and despite the added expense, they enjoy living their; there pretty much living the dream they always wanted.

Obviously, this is wrong. What is the correct form?

John and Jenny renovated their home this summer, and despite the added expense, they enjoy living there; they’re pretty much living the dream they always wanted.



1) Fill in each of the blanks with the correct form:

• Contraction = __________________________________________
• Location Reference =_____________________________________
• Possessive Pronoun=_____________________________________

2) What form has a verb incorporated into it?

• There
• They’re
• Their

3) True or False:

“They’re wonderful people. I am glad I met them.”

4) Use each form in a sentence:

• There _________________________________________________________
• Their __________________________________________________________
• They’re ________________________________________________________

5) Fill each space with the correct form:

There, They’re, Their

Maggie and Jim were a wonderful couple, despite the fact that each one had a personality totally opposite of the other: she a free spirit with no concerns in life whatsoever; he a well-disciplined and overly protective man with a professional career as a district attorney. __________________ life together was so complete that __________________respective differences didn’t matter.

“_______________ are perfect,” _________________ friend Carny has said. “_______________ so much in love that they focus only on the good things.”

That perspective would prove foolish, however, as ________________ distinctions eventually caught up with them, and _________________ blissful marriage turned into instant turmoil.

One day, Maggie got into an accident with ______________ BMW. No one was hurt, but the car was totaled. She was so much in a daze that she hadn’t noticed the tow truck delivering _________________ automobile to the city impound. ____________ the vehicle sat until the arguing couple decided what to do. Not only were ______________ repair expenses high, but _____________ insurance company refused to pay the entire bill due to the fact that the accident had been Maggie’s fault. On top of that, the impound storage fees accrued daily.

“What’s the matter with you?” Jim exploded in anger. “That car cost plenty, and YOU had to go and wreck it! _______________________ is no excuse for that!”

“Hey, at least I didn’t get hurt,” Maggie came back defensively. “These things happen. ____________ is no need to get so uptight. We can afford the damages.”

Jim’s eye’s glared white. “That’s not the point!” he finally said. “You need to be more responsible. Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

Maggie didn’t respond, but she growled under her breath. How dare he show blatant disregard for her well being; he cared more about that stupid car than he did her. He always put money before the value of human life.

______________ attitudes became so divided at that point that they never agreed on anything again—except for one thing. . .

They eventually divorced and wound up living separate lives. She decided to join the Peace Corps and help the poor in a third-word country. He married his high school sweetheart and became an appellate judge for the state.

In the end, they both realized ________________ differences played a direct role in each of them finding ________________ own lives. ________________ far happier than they’ve ever been.


40 Responses to “Distinction: ‘There,’ ‘Their’ and ‘They’re’.”

  1. Great Article 🙂 Thanks for sharing…

    […]Distinction: ‘There,’ ‘Their’ and ‘They’re’. « Creatiwriter64's Blog[…]…

  2. Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it
    was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any points for beginner blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate

    • CW64 said

      Ho Shop,

      Thanks for posting, and thanks for enjoying. That’s what it’s all about–sharing and exchanging insight.

      I’d be happy to give you some tips. What are you looking for? I am a writer, not only of fiction, but also non-fiction. As a freelancer, I have done my share of SEO (Search Engine optimization) articles, so I am very familiar with that. Using the appropriate key words will get your blog at the top of search engine lists, which is what you want for optimum attraction. What those key words and phrases are or should be depends on the purpose of your blog. Use them strategically, and use words and phrases that will attract the RIGHT or Desired audience. Again, that’s all up to you.

      Another recommendation is to write content that will appeal to large audiences. Writing always does, which is why I pass on tips in writing and English grammar. Present it in an engaging and easy-to-read manner. Readers appreciate straightforwardness. For more on writing, stayed tuned in to my blog. I will cover a array of issues and topics from writing tough drafts to editing and revising to submitting for publication.

      Again, what are you most interested in learning at this time? When starting, don’t overload yourself. You’re not going to remember everything anyway. Set up a plan and determine what you need, then seek out the relevant information as you need it. This way, you absorb it gradually and in an organized fashion. I hope that makes sense.

      Feel free to ask questions or share your own insight at any time. I appreciate anything you’d have to offer, and I will certainly reciprocate. Oh yes–don’t forget to read and post. I look forward to that as well.

      Take care and thanks.


    • CW64 said

      By the way, sorry about your initial post. I can’t say what happened to it. Smaller posts are usually best anyway, so stick to simple messages.

  3. hi!,I love your writing so much! percentage we be in contact more about your post on AOL?
    I need a specialist in this space to resolve my problem.
    Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to see you.

    • CW64 said

      Thank you very much for the kind words and reassurance. I appreciate them both.

      Yes, I would be very interested. Whatever your problem is, I look forward to helping with it. I don’t have AOL, but we can talk through email. I will contact you soon.

      Take care for now and please keep reading.


  4. I rarely create responses, however i did some searching and
    wound up here Distinction: There, Their and Theyre.
    Creatiwriter64’s Blog. And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be only me or does it give the impression like a
    few of these comments look like they are left by brain dead visitors?
    😛 And, if you are posting on other online sites, I’d like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you list of the complete urls of your communal sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

    • CW64 said

      Thanks for posting.

      My personal inks are located on the face of the blog for easy retrieval and access, but for the sake of convenience:

      Linked in professional profile
      Research Topics
      La Voz: Commentary on Current Issues

      I have other sites in development, but those listed above are the primary sites at this time. In case you find yourself wondering why two sites share identical blog posts, please keep in mind that some articles fit under the theme of more than one blog. One example is the article “Perceptions versus Facts: Which is More Decisive.” I posted this piece on both researcherone and Hoppervoz because it serves as both a viable topic for research consideration as well as a personal commentary. This repetition is an ongoing occurrence for me for that reason. Quite often, my blogs will overlap that way.

      As for Twitter, I don’t have an account there yet, but I am working on it. Please stay tuned. I will provide further information on myself as time progresses.

      Take care and thanks for posting.


  5. technology said

    Asking questions are genuinely nice thing if you are not understanding something fully, but this post offers pleasant understanding

    • CW64 said


      First, thank you for the compliment. I appreciate the kind words.

      Second, One hallmark of my posts is that they provide simple explanations (such as this) so that readers will be able to understand the points made in the content. That’s not intended as condescension. Many other references are filled with drawn out and word descriptions that likely leave readers more confused than ever before. Some readers, such as young students or beginning writers, yearn for simplicity, as anything expressed in clear and simple fashion is not only easier to understand but also easier to absorb and recall later on. That’s how references and other knowledge bases should be, otherwise they serve no practical purpose.

      Again, thanks for posting.


  6. SEO Info said

    Every weekend i used to go to see this website, as i wish for enjoyment, as
    this this web site conations genuinely good funny stuff too.

    • CW64 said

      Glad you enjoy it. Keep on reading. If you want to see something in particular, feel free to ask at any time. I will will happy to accommodate when I can.

      Take care.


  7. What’s up friends, fastidious paragraph and pleasant arguments commented at this place, I am actually enjoying by these.

    • CW64 said

      Glad you like what you see. I am very meticulous and assert my attention to every detail, although, like anyone, I will miss something from time to time. Still, I pride myself on the simplicity of my writing. That’s the point behind the purpose of these articles.

      Please check back from time to time. More articles are to come.


  8. Legal News said

    Just desire to say your article is as surprising.
    The clarity in your post is simply nice and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

    • CW64 said

      Thank you for the encouragement. Please feel free to take the feed at any time. The more feeds go out, the greater number of people will read my blog. That’s a nice thing. 🙂

      I have been writing my entire life and I have advanced degrees in writing-related fields, so I am somewhat knowledgeable regarding my topics. The more familiar one is with a subject, the easier s/he can describe it in simple terms.

      I’m glad the article helped you. Please keep an eye out for more to come. . .


  9. Thank you for some other informative website. Where else may just I
    am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal manner?
    I’ve a project that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.

    • CW64 said

      I am glad that my article is useful. That’s the point in the entire process.

      As for other sites that offer information expressed in a clear and simple manner, a few exist. You can start atthe online dictionary. This site is one of many with a vast storehouse of information regarding many languages. Another is ‘’ Good luck in your search.

      In the meantime, please stay tuned and keep on reading. Many more articles like this will be coming. . .


  10. Travel News…

    Distinction: ‘There,’ ‘Their’ and ‘They’re’. « Creatiwriter64’s Blog…

  11. I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks!

    • CW64 said

      No, I am not your cousin (as far as I know), but I thank you for the kind words. Perhaps it is a coincidence that this post matches your needs. I am glad it does.

      As for the details, I pride myself on being specific because vagueness leads to confusion. Simple expressions allow for clarity and easy of understanding.

      Please keep reading and enjoy!


  12. Hi to all, the contents present at this site are in fact amazing for people experience,
    well, keep up the nice work fellows.

  13. I always appreciate a great article or piece of writing. Thanks for the contribution.

  14. What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & assist different users like its helped me. Great job.

  15. Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the amazing work.

    • CW64 said

      Thank you, George. I always try to keep it simple while adding my own insight. Keep on reading. There are more “Distinctions” to come.


  16. Informative and precise…

    Its difficult to find informative and precise information but here I noted…

    • CW64 said

      Hi Warp Net,

      Thank you for the comment and the words of encourage. Yes, I try to be as thorough, precise and simple in as condensed framework as possible. This way, the information is both inviting and easy to absorb.retain. That’s my intention anyway . . . Please stay tuned. I will be posting additional articles to the ‘Distinctions’ series soon.

      By the way, if you or anyone else has any suggestions for an entry or any other aspect of the blog, please feel free to offer at any time. I will welcome it with open mind and open arms.

      Take care.


  17. d2s said

    Nice post…

    It’s genuinely very complicated in this busy life to listen news on TV, so I only use world wide web for that reason, and get the latest news….

  18. Great information…

    This is first-class. Every stare upon this offer matter therefore we are confused. We are attracted to this sort of issues. Person appreciate ones accumulate, and profit your precious time with this. Please keep editing. They are very worthy facts and…

    • CW64 said

      Thank you for the kind sentiments. Please keep reading, and if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to share. I am always open to new ideas.


  19. Hi!…

    Normally I don’t read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article….

  20. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a
    amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!
    However, how could we communicate?

    • CW64 said

      Hello Chanel,

      I am glad you like blog and hope you continue reading. You can contact me via email, which is available on the blog, or you can leave messages here and I will get them in a timely fashion.

      If you are seeking writing and/or editing services, please let me know. I provide them. Thanks.


  21. I’ve learn several just right stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to create such a fantastic informative site.

  22. Earnest said

    I think that what you published made a lot of sense. But, what
    about this? what if you were to write a killer title?
    I ain’t saying your content isn’t good, but what if you added something that
    grabbed a person’s attention? I mean Distinction: There, Their and Theyre. | Creatiwriter64’s Blog is kinda boring.
    You should peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create post headlines to get people to click. You might add a related video or a picture or two to grab readers interested about everything’ve got to say.
    In my opinion, it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.

    • CW64 said

      Hi Earnest,

      Thanks for the honest and valuable critique. You’re right–I DO tend to get a little boring from time to time and I am working on it. I need to balance the interesting with the informative.

      As for images, yeah, I hear you and agree with you. I am concerned with infringing on copyrights. You will see more more visuals to come.

      Please feel free to critique at any time, as long as it is done respectfully.

      Take care.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: