'Their', 'they're', and 'there' are homophones that often confuse students who are learning English grammar (and some adults who've forgotten how to differentiate them). Homophones, you will learn in a grammar lesson, are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

From this guide, students are going to learn the differences between these three words, how to identify them, and how to use them properly. Knowing how to use these words correctly is important because the entire sense of a sentence can change if you use the incorrect one, which can overall affect your grades.

Learning proper grammar isn't only useful for school essays and good grades. Imagine you use the incorrect word on a college or job application, this can literally cost you admission to that college or the job.

Therefore, you need to have sharp reading and writing skills so that in the future you don't make simple spelling mistakes. But don't worry, it's not like you have to learn immediately or at once. You first need to practice a lot and work hard to learn the correct spelling of every word.

You can find more information about English grammar in A Quick Guide to English Grammar or learn about the proper use of Differences between Adjectives and Adverbs.

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Buying some cards to help you study and differentiate each word is the best strategy, but there are other activities a student can do to improve their grammar. Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash
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They're

As you could infer, 'they're' is a homophone word in the English language. This means that the sound you hear for this word is also the sound you hear for other words.

That can be confusing, therefore, the first thing you should do to identify homophone words is to pay attention to the context. The meaning of the sentence will tell you which word is being used or which one you should use.

With that being said, let's start by defining 'they're'. This word, apart from being a homophone word, is also a contraction, which means it's two words put together.

Contracted words are very common in the English language. These are when you write two words as one and put them together with an apostrophe.

'They're' is the contraction of "they are" or of "they were".

'They're' is the same thing as contracting "we are” into “we’re,” or “you are” into “you’re”. The best way to identify this homophone is by understanding the meaning of"they are".

Here is a list of examples:

  • They're going to play some games and have some fun.
  • I love the people I work with because they're into arts just like me.
  • We had a great day with my dogs, they're so much fun.
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Literacy is as important as math or science classes, identifying a verb or a noun is as important as any other activity or task in school. Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

There

'There' can be a tricky word because it can be used in different ways. If you already had a grammar lesson on there, you know that first it can be used as an adverb.

As you might know, an adverb describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb. And the word 'there' as an adverb means exactly the opposite of 'here' and it describes something or someone that might be 'at that place'.

On the other hand, 'there' can also be used as a pronoun, and as you already know, a pronoun takes the place of a noun in a sentence.

If 'there' is being used as a pronoun, it will usually be at the beginning of the sentence. Any other time that the word is not at the start of a sentence, then it most likely is acting as an adverb.

Below you will find a list of examples:

  • There is a fundamental difference between a noun and a verb.
  • There are many types of friends
  • I don't like school, especially science and math classes, and I don't like that I have to go there and it's not even for free.

In the first two examples, 'there' is a pronoun, and in the last sentence, 'there' is an adverb describing a place.

Although it seems like 'there' is one mixed packet, you will see that with time, patience, and practice there will come a day when you will recognize the word with no effort needed.

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The homophone words unit in grammar can be confusing but all the words come in a packet pretty much ready for you to learn for free. Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash

Their

Finally, the last word on this list of homophones that you need to learn to identify is 'their'. Here is the exact definition for their, "the third-person plural possessive pronoun".

This means that in the language lesson about 'their' you are going to understand what a possessive pronoun is. Understanding the different types of pronouns can be difficult, but it's not impossible and once you fully dominate the subject you will be at a higher level of literacy and better prepared for college.

Possessive pronouns are a replacement for nouns or noun phrases that might sound repetitive and, of course, they also show possession.

In school activities, if you are given the task to identify possessive pronouns in a worksheet, you have to look for words replacing nouns that talk about ownership.

Here is a list with examples:

  • My twin sisters want me to help them with their science homework but I am only good at math.
  • I'm lucky I graduated from school already because now all their worksheets are in pdf format.
  • I didn't want to see all their time and hard work go to waste.
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The best way to do a task or an activity is with games, that way the student will learn about the unit while having fun and not by reading a pdf document. Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

Summary

Learning to identify homophones can be tricky, but it is not impossible.

There are many writing activities and worksheets that can help you practice and sharpen your skills. A great way to guarantee good grades in any grammar lesson (or any other school lesson) is by making the students play games that actually are learning activities.

Learning grammar and every single unit in the subject can seem daunting but it's a great way to guarantee correct and complete literacy in a student. If you play your cards right, learning the correct spelling and the correct use of language can guarantee you a spot in the college of your dreams.

Entering college is not only about math or science, you also need good writing and reading skills that you won't get after one day of studying. You need to work hard and dedicate good time to get not only good but great grades in every subject.

It is common for students to feel a little nervous about learning something new, like how to write a great essay or about all the different types of sciences there are in the world. All they have to do is take one step at a time and don't put all the cards on the table at once.

Keep in mind that learning to identify and use homophone words can be challenging but you can create fun activities to make the learning processes less daunting.

If you want to learn more about English grammar, check out our articles What's the Difference Between a Hyphen and Dash and Parenthesis and Their Different Uses.

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