Their vs There: What’s The Difference?


Hey there! So, English is full of words that sound the same but mean totally different things. They can trip you up when you’re texting, writing an essay, or just trying to make a killer post on social media. We call these words homophones, and they’re like word twins with their own secret lives.

Today, we’re diving into two words that cause a lot of mix-ups: “Their” and “There.” At first glance, they might seem interchangeable because they sound identical, but they play very different roles in sentences. 

“Their” is all about ownership, like “Their pizza is on the way” (lucky them!).

 On the flip side, “There” is about a place or a situation, like saying, “There’s a cat on the roof!” (hope it’s not scared).

So, let’s get ready to break down these words, understand the difference, and never mix them up again. Whether you’re trying to nail your grammar for school or just want to text like a pro, understanding “Their” vs. “There” is going to level up your game. Let’s dive in!

Definition of Their

Alright, let’s zoom in on “their.” This word is all about ownership or belonging. It’s like a little sign pointing to who something belongs to, but instead of one person, it’s for a group. When you say “their,” you’re talking about something that a bunch of people have or are connected to.

For example, if you’re talking about your friends and the cool game they all play, you’d say, “Their game is super intense.” Here, “their” tells us that the game belongs to the group of friends. Or, if a band just dropped a new album, you might say, “Their latest album is fire!” which means the album belongs to the band.

You’ll typically use “their” in situations where you’re discussing something that a group owns, feels, or is part of. It could be their thoughts (“Their idea was brilliant”), their stuff (“I’m at their house”), or even their actions (“Their performance was amazing”). 

Just remember, “their” is all about linking stuff to a group of people or things. It’s like you’re connecting the dots between something and the crew it belongs to.

Definition of There

Now, let’s switch gears to “there.” This word isn’t about ownership; it’s more about pointing out a place or the existence of something. It’s like a finger pointing to a spot or highlighting that something is happening or exists.

For instance, if you’re talking about a cool skatepark in the neighborhood, you’d say, “Let’s meet there at noon.” Here, “there” is the spot where you’re planning to hang out. Or if you’re suddenly noticing it’s raining, you might say, “Look, there’s rain!” which means you’re pointing out the rain happening right now.

“There” pops up a lot when you’re talking about locations or existence. It could be a physical place (“There’s the restaurant we love”), a situation (“There seems to be a problem”), or even when announcing something (“There goes the winner!”). It’s super versatile.

Etymology and Historical Usage

Let’s take a trip back in time and dig into where “their” and “there” came from, and how their past has shaped what they mean today.

Starting with “their,” this word has its roots in Old Norse, coming from the word “þeirra,” which meant “of them.” 

It made its way into Old English thanks to the Vikings who decided to settle in England. Over the centuries, “their” kept its meaning pretty stable, always pointing to possession or belonging to a group. It’s like a linguistic heirloom, passed down through generations, holding onto its sense of ownership.

Now, onto “there.” This word comes from the Old English word “þǣr,” which had a similar meaning to today’s “there.” It’s been around for a really long time, and while its spelling has changed a bit, its job as a pointer to a place or situation has stayed pretty consistent. It’s like an old signpost, always telling you where to look or what’s going on.

Historically, both words have been super important in English. “Their” has always been about linking stuff to people, and “there” has been about pointing things out. Over time, they’ve kept these core meanings, but they’ve also adapted to fit into modern language. 

Comparative Analysis

When we look at “their” and “there,” they might sound identical, but they’re like two different tools in your language toolbox, each with its own job and vibe.

“Their”: This word is all about possession and belonging. It has a personal touch, connecting objects, feelings, or thoughts to a group of people or things. It’s like a label that says, “Hey, this belongs to them!”

Example with “Their”:

“Their dog is super friendly.” (The dog belongs to them.)

“There”: On the flip side, “there” is about location or existence. It’s like a big arrow pointing to a place or highlighting that something is happening or exists. It doesn’t have the personal touch of “their” because it’s not about ownership.

Example with “There”:

“There’s a new café down the street.” (The café exists down the street.)

Now, let’s do a side-by-side comparison:

Their vs. There (Possession vs. Location):

“Their house is beautiful” vs. “There is a beautiful house.”

The first one tells you that the beautiful house belongs to them, while the second one points out the existence of a beautiful house.

Their vs. There (Belonging vs. Existence):

“I love their music” vs. “There’s music I love.”

The first one links the music you love to a specific group, while the second one is more about the fact that such music exists.

Remembering the difference is key: “Their” is personal and possessive, while “There” is about pointing out places or existence. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be using “their” and “there” like a pro, perfectly capturing the nuances and connotations of each word in your sentences.

Common Mistakes and Misuses

Mixing up “their” and “there” is a common slip-up, but understanding the difference can help you avoid these errors and use each word like a pro.

Common Errors:

Using “their” for location: A frequent mistake is saying something like, “Let’s meet at their,” when you mean “Let’s meet there.” Remember, “their” is about possession, not place.

Using “there” for possession: Similarly, some might say, “There dog is so cute,” instead of “Their dog is so cute.” “There” doesn’t show ownership, “their” does.

Tips for Remembering:

For “Their”: Associate “Their” with “Heir” (they sound similar). An heir inherits something, just like “their” indicates possession or belonging. Think of “their” as having an invisible item right next to it, something that belongs to someone.

For “There”: Notice that “there” has the word “here” in it. Both “there” and “here” are about location. If you can substitute “here” and the sentence still makes sense, then “there” is likely the word you’re looking for.

Visual Mnemonics:

For “their,” imagine a group of people holding a sign that says “Ours.” It emphasizes that something belongs to them.

For “there,” picture a big arrow pointing to a specific spot or thing. It’s indicating a place or the existence of something.

By remembering these tips and visual cues, you’ll be more equipped to use “their” and “there” correctly. Keep in mind: “their” is for belonging, and “there” is for location or existence. Get these down, and you’ll dodge the common mix-ups with ease!

Practical Tips for Distinguishing Between Their and There

Navigating the homophones “their” and “there” can be tricky, but with some practical tips and mnemonic devices, you can easily tell them apart and use them correctly.

Mnemonic Devices:

  • Their: Think of the “i” in “their” as a little person. This can remind you that “their” is about people and what belongs to them.
  • There: The word “there” has “here” in it. Just like “here,” “there” is about location. Remember, “here” and “there” are both about places.

Comparison Table:

MeaningOwnership or belonging to a group of peopleIndicates a place or the existence of something
UsageTo show possessionTo point to a location or introduce something
ExampleTheir house is blue (The house belongs to them)There is a blue house (The house exists over there)
MnemonicThe “i” in “their” is like a little person holding something that belongs to them“There” has “here” in it; both are about locations

Extra Tips:

  • When you’re writing and can’t decide which to use, try substituting “our” for “their” and “here” for “there.” If “our” makes sense, you want “their.” If “here” works, then it’s “there” you’re looking for.
  • Always read your sentence out loud. Context can often guide you. If you’re talking about something someone owns, you need “their.” If you’re talking about a place or existence, you need “there.”

By keeping these guidelines and the table in mind, distinguishing between “their” and “there” becomes much simpler. Remember the mnemonics and practice with the tips provided, and soon, picking the right word will be second nature!

Usage in Literature and Media

“Their” and “There” have made numerous appearances in literature and media, each serving its unique purpose to enrich narratives and dialogue.


In literature, “their” often appears to express relationships, possession, and belonging within groups or among individuals. 

In Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” for instance, she writes, “Their sister’s wedding day arrived” to show the family connection and shared experience. 


“There,” on the other hand, is used to set scenes and direct attention.

 In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the famous line “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark” uses “there” to introduce the idea of a deeper problem.



For readers keen on delving deeper into the fascinating world of language and usage, there’s a wealth of resources out there. Here’s a list of books,  that can provide more insight and knowledge.

“The Mother Tongue” by Bill Bryson:

Explore the English language, its history, and its quirks.

Check the availability

“Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen” by Mary Norris:

Dive into the world of grammar with the long-time New Yorker copy editor.

Check the availability

“Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss:

A witty, informative book on punctuation.

Check the availability

“The Elements of Eloquence” by Mark Forsyth:

Discover the secrets of classic phrases and literary techniques.

Check the availability

“The Sense of Style” by Steven Pinker:

Investigate the science of language to improve your writing.

Check the availability adv banner