Their vs. There: When to Use There vs. Their (with Useful Examples)

Last Updated on December 6, 2023

Why does the English language have so many words that look almost the same but can’t be used the one instead of the other? That’s the question that everyone who’s learning English asks at least once. Indeed, homophones, or words that sound really alike, are common in this language. One pair that causes problems for many people is their vs there.

Their vs. There: the Key Difference 

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Their vs. There: Key Takeaways

Their vs. There: Meanings

Meaning of their

 THEIR is a possessive pronoun that means “belonging to them”. Sometimes, especially in informal writing, it’s used instead of “his” or “her” when we don’t know the gender of the person we’re talking about.

  • Their living room is equipped with all kinds of modern appliances.
  • The businesses showed a dramatic variation in how they treated their staff.

Meaning of there

THERE, on the other hand, means “in or to that place” and shows where something is located.

  • We miscalculated how long it would take to get there.
  • We’ll never get there if he doesn’t speed up.

Their vs. There: Common Uses

Understanding how to use ‘their’ and ‘there’ is crucial because they serve different grammatical functions despite sounding alike. ‘Their’ indicates possession, while ‘there’ refers to a location or is used in an existential construction.

Using ‘Their’ in a Sentence

‘Their’ is a possessive pronoun that’s used to show ownership or belonging. It’s a signal word that what follows is something that pertains to them (a group of people, animals, or other entities). Here’s how you would typically see ‘their’ used:

  • In its simplest form: “Their dog is very friendly.”
  • To emphasize ownership: “It’s their responsibility, not ours.”

Using ‘There’ in a Sentence

‘There’ operates as an adverb to indicate a place or position, or as a pronoun to introduce a sentence. Here are the common ways ‘there’ is used:

  • To specify location: “Please leave the keys there on the table.”
  • To start a sentence: “There are four seasons in a year.”

Their vs. There: Tips to Distinguish 

When we come across the words “their” and “there,” it’s easy to get mixed up due to their similar pronunciations. However, we can remember the correct usage with a few simple tips:

Pronoun Possession with ‘Their’ ‘Their’ indicates possession and is used when something belongs to a group of people.

  • Example: Their house is at the end of the street.

Location or Existence with ‘There’ On the other hand, ‘there’ refers to a place or the existence of something.

  • Example: We will meet there at noon.

Their vs. There Examples

Examples of “Their” in Sentences

  1. The students presented their projects to the class.
  2. Their house is at the end of the street.
  3. The cats curled up in their favorite spot by the window.
  4. They always take their vacation in July.
  5. All the players on the team wore their uniforms to the game.

Examples of “There” in Sentences

  1. I will meet you there at 5 PM.
  2. There seems to be a misunderstanding about the deadline.
  3. Look over there! It’s a shooting star.
  4. There are many reasons why I love living in this city.
  5. Is there anything I can do to help?

Examples of Sentences that Use Both “Their” and “There

  1. The children put on their coats before they went out there into the cold.
  2. Their excitement was evident as they arrived there at the amusement park.
  3. There are many challenges ahead, but with their determination, they will succeed.
  4. Their car broke down, so they had to walk from there to the nearest service station.
  5. The team left their gear in the locker room before heading out there onto the field.

Exercise

Fill in the blank 

  1. The students put __________ books on the table before class started.
  2. __________ are many reasons why we should consider renewable energy sources.
  3. They always take __________ dog to the same park every morning.
  4. Look over __________; the northern lights are visible tonight!
  5. __________ opinions on the matter seemed to differ greatly from the rest of the group.
  6. Can you put these groceries __________ on the counter?
  7. __________ going to be a meeting at 3 PM in the conference room.
  8. The children were proud of __________ artwork displayed at the school fair.
  9. Is __________ a possibility that the event will be canceled due to the weather?
  10. The team celebrated __________ victory with a night out on the town.

Answer and Explanation

  1. Answer: their
    • Explanation: “Their” is a possessive pronoun referring to the students owning the books.
  2. Answer: There
    • Explanation: “There” is used to indicate the existence of something.
  3. Answer: their
    • Explanation: “Their” is a possessive pronoun referring to the ownership of the dog by “they.”
  4. Answer: there
    • Explanation: “There” is used to refer to a place or point in space.
  5. Answer: Their
    • Explanation: “Their” is a possessive pronoun indicating that the opinions belong to them.
  6. Answer: there
    • Explanation: “There” refers to a place, in this case, a location on the counter.
  7. Answer: There’s
    • Explanation: “There’s” is a contraction of “there is,” indicating the existence of a meeting.
  8. Answer: their
    • Explanation: “Their” is a possessive pronoun showing that the artwork belongs to the children.
  9. Answer: there
    • Explanation: “There” is used to introduce the possibility of something happening.
  10. Answer: their
    • Explanation: “Their” is a possessive pronoun indicating that the victory belongs to the team.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between “their” and “there”?

  • “Their” is a possessive pronoun, used to indicate ownership, such as in “It is their book.”
  • “There” refers to a location or place, as in “The book is over there.”

How do I know when to use “their” or “there”? We recommend using “their” when referring to something that belongs to someone, and “there” when you’re talking about the location of something. Here’s a simple trick: If you can replace it with “our,” use “their.”

Can you give me an example of “their” and “there” used in one sentence? We certainly can! “They left their coats over there on the chair.”

Is “their” ever used for a singular person? Yes, “their” is also used as a singular pronoun to refer to a person whose gender is unknown or when the gender is not disclosed, like in “Someone left their phone.”

How can I practice using “their” and “there” correctly? We suggest reading a lot, which helps you see examples of correct usage in context, and writing sentences using both words. Regular practice will help cement your understanding.

Word Usage Example
Their Possession Their dog is cute.
There Location Look over there!

 

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