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There, Their, and They're
Spend much time reading through blogs and other online material, and inevitably you’ll see one of the biggest pet peeves of the modern day grammar police…the improper use of there, their, and they’re. Like the scratch that you just can’t seem to reach, these seemingly common words have stumped novice and professional writers alike. So suit up (don’t forget your face mask) as we tackle the contemporary ‘White Whale’ of the English Language.
Unwrapping the Mystery
Fortunately for us, each of these words have a fairly distinct meaning, and their uses are equally unique. So if we can just get past the idea that they sound exactly alike (Homonyms, for those keeping score at home), it’s not hard to master. Let’s begin by putting the offenders in a Police Line-Up and pick on each one individually.
We’ll begin with the word ‘there’, primarily because it’s the most widely used of the three…probably because there’s so many different ways of using it! Adjective, adverb, noun, pronoun, idiom, interjection…it does it all. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Truly a ‘jack of all trades’ kind of word, ‘there’ serves many purposes in the English language, and should probably be the ‘default’ usage of the three in question, when in doubt. The other two have very selective uses…so let’s tackle them now.
Another one-trick pony, the word “they’re” is nothing more than the contraction of two words. And since we love using contractions in the English Language, we’ll since this offender quite a bit. Simply a combination of ‘they’ and ‘are’ (or in some cases, ‘were’), this fella should be the least likely to throw us off our game.
They’re getting older, and will be going to college soon.
The documents used to be on display, but now they’re locked up in the vault.
Once dry, they’re likely to never flower again.
Nothing to it…a simple contraction of they and are. So don’t let this one stump you!
Misusing there, their, and they’re can give even the savviest editor a nervous twitch. In fact, most writers include the ‘there check’ as part of their self-editing process. Don’t let it discourage, however, as remembering these examples and putting them to practice should help you cross that bridge more easily. Fortunately, programs like Google Docs and Microsoft Word are lending a helping hand as well, and tend to catch these infractions more often than before.
So in conclusion, there are going to be problems, but they’re more likely to overcome their fears if they just stick to the basics.
Hello, my name is Scott...I'm a husband, father of 3, and work full-time in IT. If that's not enough on my plate, I'm also tackling the biggest 'creative' project of my lifetime, bringing Mists of Kel Doran to life. I hope you like what I'm trying to pull off and I truly appreciate all of those who have supported this dream of mine. Here's to following your heart and having the courage to put your ideas out there for the world to enjoy :)
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