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Homophones 3 - Their, There and They're
"If you look over their you can see the sea." Is this sentence correct?

Homophones 3 - Their, There and They're

In the previous two quizzes we were told about homophones. Homophones are words with different spellings and meanings but the same pronunciation. Examples of homophones are PEAL/PEEL, WHINE/WINE and FLOUR/FLOWER. You will notice that all these words have the same pronunciation but different spellings and different meanings.

When homophones are used in written communication it is quite easy to differentiate and take out the correct meaning. However, when homophones are used in spoken English we may get confused if we do not listen to the words carefully and notice the context in which they are used.

In the previous quiz we looked at a pair of words, ITS and IT’S, that are homophones. We now look at three more homophones which are often confused - THEIR, THERE and THEY’RE. We come across these words quite often in both written and oral communication.

THEIR is a possessive pronoun describing a noun which belongs to 'them.' For instance, in the sentence ‘THEIR house is bigger than ours’ the word THEIR is used as a possessive pronoun indicating possession and describes somebody’s house.

THERE is an adverb that points to a location in space or time. For example, ‘The dog is over THERE’ or ‘THERE once was a man’ are sentences where THERE is used to point out a location in the first example and to indicate a time in the second.

THEY’RE is actually two words - THEY and ARE, contracted to form THEY’RE. THEY’RE is similar to IT’S that we studied in the previous quiz. For instance, ‘THEY’RE coming with us to the new movie’ is a sentence where THEY’RE is used to describe someone. THEY is a plural pronoun and ARE is a verb. So, in reality THEY’RE is actually two words.

To recap:

THEIR is a possessive pronoun describing a noun which belongs to 'them'.

THERE is an adverb that points to a location in space or time.

THEY’RE is actually two words - THEY and ARE, contracted to form THEY’RE.

If you remember these facts then the quiz that follows will be a cake walk for you and you will be well on your way to understanding homophones!

1.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
I wonder who they're talking to.
Both of the cars are made by BMW and there both SUVs.
We are going over there to eat.
Have you seen their new store?
"Both of the cars are made by BMW and they are both SUVs" makes sense and so the contracted form of 'they are', 'they're' must be used
2.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
There is something strange going on.
If they’re ready, we can go.
Do you think there getting a new car?
This is their room and this is ours.
In answer 3 if we substitute 'there' for 'they are' the sentence makes more sense so 'they're', the contracted form of 'they are', must be used
3.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
What happened to their dog?
Is there a phone?
I can’t believe they’re not here yet!
Mustaq has they're homework in his car.
"Mustaq has they are homework in his car" does not make sense. We are talking about homework which belongs to somebody and so the possessive form of 'they', 'their', must be used
4.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
Their being here is causing some problems.
That guy there seems to be in trouble.
Many years ago their weren't any cars.
When they’re older, they’ll understand.
In answer 3 a reference to time in the past is being made and hence 'there' must be used
5.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
Their books are on the table.
My aunt and uncle are arriving today; there coming from New York.
Do you want to sit here or there?
I think they’re lying.
In answer 4 the word is a reference to "my aunt and uncle" not to "New York" and so the contracted form of 'they are' must be used
6.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
There is an old haunted house.
Our neighbours have bought a second TV, they're new one is an HD TV.
They're coming over for dinner.
Their dog is pretty awesome.
"Our neighbours have bought a second TV, they are new one is an HD TV" doesn't make any sense. The possessive form of 'they', 'their', must be used as we are talking about TV which belongs to the neighbour
7.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
They're dog is a Great Dane called Floyd.
Where is their car?
He’s over there.
They’re going to be late.
In answer 1 the possessive form of 'they' must be used as we are talking about someone's dog. "They are dog is a Great Dane called Floyd" would not make any sense
8.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
If you look over their you can see the sea.
There are no excuses this time, son!
I can't imagine where they're going after the movie.
It's their car, so let them decide where we're going.
In answer 1 a reference to place is being made and hence 'there' must be used
9.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
Is that what they’re saying?
Stop right there.
Are these their pens?
Their once was a bird called a Dodo.
Answer 4 is a reference to a time in the past and hence 'there' must be used
10.
Which of the following sentences has the wrong usage of 'there', 'their' or 'they're'?
Wherever there are two or more firefighters in the same room, you know what they'll be talking about.
Whatever they're doing to this highway, it seems to be taking forever to finish.
These students have a poor attendance record. I'm worried about their being absent during next week's exams.
Do you know what there phone number is?
In answer 4 the possessive form of 'they', 'their', must be used as we are talking about a phone number which belongs to someone
Author:  V T Narendra

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