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Their Mixing Up They’re Theres

“Nothing says any of there iPhones are waterproof.”  —An Apple Customer

“A lot of people are complaining that they’re iPhones are getting way too hot.” —A Reddit Commentator

Their are a great many public works to be begun.” —An Author

Yikes! What’s happening to our language?

Note: This topic requires some analysis, so in this Blog we’ll have to do a deep dive. A toe-in-the-water discussion just won’t suffice.

Deep-Dive Discussion

I think more people see this mistake than make this mistake. If you see it in an email, in a report, on the Internet, or on a chat board, you now have a polite way of helping the writer understand the problem, fix it, and avoid professional embarrassment in the future.

Just copy this message and send it to the writer:

“Hey, I think you might like to read Ed Good’s Blog Post—“Their Mixing Up They’re Theres.” Just click this link.”


The word their has the word heir in it. An heir receives something, An heir possesses something.

  • The heirs enjoyed their inheritance.

Their  is a plural possessive pronoun. A noun form will always follow the word. Forms of the verb to be will never follow the word their. Expressions like their is or their are do not exist in our language.

There as an Adverb

The word there has the word here in it. Here shows location. So does there. To show location, these two words often act as adverbs to show where some action took place.

  • She worked here for 15 years. (The adverb here shows where she worked for 15 years. Use this construction only if it’s clear where here is.)

  • He vacationed there to enjoy the skin-diving. (The adverb there shows where he went to skin-dive. Use this construction only if it’s clear where there is.)

There as a Pronoun

The word there also acts as a pronoun, often beginning a sentence along with the verb to be. Thus, you’ll often use there is (or there’s) or there are  (or there’re) to start sentences.

When you use this form of there, look at the noun following the expression. If that noun is singular, then you must use there is (or there’s). If that word is plural, then you must use there are (or there’re).

  • There is (or There’s) a grammatical mistake in your paper.

  • There are several grammatical mistakes in your paper. Note: The contraction there're is considered nonstandard by many authorities. You should not use it in your writing.

The expressions there is, there are, here are, here is, it is, and others are called “expletives” in grammar. (Not expletive as in curse word.)

Note: In the new online course in effective writing—Write Better Right Now—I urge writers to use expletives sparingly. You’ll find complete instruction in Section 9 of Write Better Write Now. Section 9 includes my 11 rules for writing killer sentences.

There as a Noun

The word there can also act as a noun. It refers to a particular place or time.

  • My house is just over there. (place)

  • You’re on your own from there on. (time)


This expression is simply a contraction of the words they are. It is not the plural third-person possessive pronoun. That word is their and nothing else.

  • They’re happy to help.

Let’s Wrap Up

Writers who mix up their theres risk their credibility. Educated readers will spot the mistake in a nanosecond (that’s one billionth of a second) and undoubtedly think less of those making the mistake.


Stay Tuned 

Visit again soon. In the next Write Better Blog, I’ll review another mistake sending shivers up the spines of knowledgeable readers.

The principle speaker at the Copywriters’ Convention urged writers to learn grammatical principals. 😊

—C. Edward Good


“There is nothing written anywhere that says any of there iPhones are waterproof.”

“A lot of people are complaining that they're iPhones are getting way too hot.”



"Their are a great many public works to be begun."

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