play there theyre their video
Commonly Confused

There, They're, Their

There, there. We'll sort it out.



TRANSCRIPT


Welcome to ask the editor. I'm Emily Brewster, an associate editor at Merriam Webster.
 
Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, but have different meanings and spellings. There are three in particular that are very tricky, in part because of their usefulness, which means that they're used in writing here and there.
 
And let's start there.
 
That one has the word here in it, which is helpful. It can remind us that this particular there is often about location.
- There it is.
- Put it there.
- Stay there.
 
It's about location in the most abstract sense, too.
- There you go.
- There is where we disagree.
 
It's also the one to use as the first word in sentences that have the subject after the verb.
- There used to be a pen here somewhere.
 
And it's the one with the verb be at the beginning of sentences and questions.
- Is there a pen here somewhere?
 
The other two are trickier because they both have the idea of the plural in them. They're both connected to the idea of them.
 
They're means they are.
- They are funny people. They're funny people.
 
It can be used with non-living things, too.
- They are both good books. They're both good books.
 
The last of this trio, their, is the possessive form of they. So it has to do with what belongs to, relates to, or is made or done by certain people, animals, or things.
- It's their house.
- The trees are losing their leaves.
 
And there you go. They're not an easy group of words, but with practice, we know that you can master their distinctions.
 
There are many more Ask the Editor videos at merriam-webster.com.

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