There or Their?

 Feb 04 2020    |   Category: IELTS , OET , PTE , TOEFL , Quiz

We at First Academy have the fortune of learning on the job. As teachers of English, we are naturally among the first to encounter the most common mistakes people make and encounter them on a regular basis. The one mistake that usually takes the cake is the difficulty most people face in understanding the difference between there, they’re (they are) and their.

Here is a short primer on what these words mean and how to use them correctly. Be it IELTS or PTE or CELPIP or any other English test where you are tested on writing skills, this distinction becomes important.

Read on!

We use there to talk about things existing or happening:

  • There is a book on the table.
  • There was applause when India won the world cup

We also use it to talk about places, especially to say where something is.

  • The ticket office is over there.
  • ‘Where is did we park the car?’ ‘There!’
  • ‘Do you like Kiev?’ ‘I’ve never been there.’


In technical terms, Their is a possessive adjective. It talks about something that belongs to a group things or people.

  • Sangeetha and Bharati looked at their wallets. The wallets belong to them.
  • Please put the pens back in their boxes.

What are there names? | What are their names?

There vs. There

  1   was once a man living in on the coast of the South China sea.
He had a family who loved   2   posessions more than they loved each other.
And,   3   lay the problem. It was all well loving possessions, but loving people is important too!
But, the thing was that no one told them, and because of that, they did not realise   4   was a problem. Since they did not know about the problem,
  5   attitudes never changed. Life continued without any problem, till one day...
The day dawned as usual. The elders went fishing, and the children were playing. The elders came back, and they were ready to sleep. Little did they realise   6   was a storm coming
  7   way, and it was a storm to beat all storms. It was something the likes of which no one had ever seen.
Once the storm was underway,   8   was no turning back. It raged and raged. For nights and days without any seeming end, it raged on, whipping away everything in its path.
The little village the man's family lived in held on to   9   dear lives, huddled under a stone outcrop that sheltered them.
A few hungry days later, the storm ebbed, they came out, only to see   10   village wiped out. It was as if it never exisited.
The land was levelled. Trees were uprooted and   11   was chaos everywhere. Nothing could be found of the village. The villagers had lost everything.
  12   lives' savings and posessions were all gone. All they had left was the clothes they were standing in, the land they were standing on, and the sea they were staring at.
The villagers were sad, but that everyone was alive was some consolation. They started hugging one another, and crying and consoling. Soon enough,   13   was talk of rebuilding the village, and everyone was included except the family. No one knew anything about them. It was because the family
minded   14   own business and never worried about the others. It was then that it dawned upon them,
that   15   was more to life than possessions. That more was very simple, that more was understanding that..
  16   meant something that belonged to them...
and   17   meant the act of being or existing at some place!

They're

They’re is a short form of they are:

  • They’re all going to the exhibition.
  • ‘Where are the cups?’ ‘They’re in the cupboard.’

I like the glasses because there colourful. | I like the glasses because they’re (they are) colourful.

There are some other similar words that cause confusion. Who’s and Whose and You’re and Your.

We will look at them in another blog post!

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