Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Misuse Of There, Their And They're

I lean towards perfectionism when it comes to spelling and grammar. Don't get me wrong, I know I'm no expert, but at least I use punctuation and read what I've written before publishing or sending it. I don't mean a quick fly-by proof read, by the way, I mean people should actually read what they've written. This way, they'll be able to tell whether their thoughts flow from one concise sentence to the next, or at the very least, make sense. Look, I don't know the intricacies of proper proper grammar and I'm not even asking everyone to say "To whom shall I make the cheque out?" because if you can't pull it off, you'll sound like a bit of a douche. Actually, I dare you to put the preposition in the correct place for a couple of days and see if people look at you weirdly or pay you out for trying to be all proper-like.

No, what I'm asking people to do is to revisit that which they were taught in primary school; the difference between there, their and they're. It's very simple, really, and I don't understand why people just can't seem to grasp it. So, here's the 101.

"there" is mostly a word used to indicate the location of something, though I have included its different uses (for example, interjection and in stating the existence of something).
What have you got there?
Your bag is over there.
There it is.
There, there. It's alright.
Hey there!
There was a good movie on last night.
There has been too much gossip about Brangelina of late, hasn't there?
"their" is a word for possession. If you can replace it in a sentence with the other possessive pronouns, it is the right one to use. Examples:
Their hands were cold. Compare: Her hands were cold.
That bag is theirs. Compare: That bag is his.
Theirs was the correct way. Compare: Mine was the correct way.
Theirs no chocolate left. Compare: Yours no chocolate left. This makes no sense, so obviously it is the wrong word. The correct sentence would be "There's no chocolate left."
"they're" is a compound of the words "they" and "are". All you need to do is get into the habit of separating compound words when you write. (This also helps with deciding between your and you're, but that might be another post.) An example:
Their going out to dinner. Think. You are actually trying to say, "They are going out to dinner." So, the correct sentence is "They're going out to dinner."

Now all in one sentence:
There's their bag that they're bringing.
Broken down: There is the bag belonging to them that they are bringing. Got it? Good. Now get it right!

1 comment:

Vivstar said...

There, there, that was a good one. Yes not many people (and I guess I am generalising here) quickly read through and not edit 'their' comments etc.. . I too sometime am a bit of a perfectionist and at times I get lazy. I know 'there' are other misuses of other words, but I think it does come down to pure laziness.
P.s I have yet to finish my blog. Will get there :P