I am sick to the back teeth of seeing these three very simple words misused so here’s a very simple guide. Will all guilty parties PLEASE keep a link to this in your bookmarks:
THERE – a place, point or matter. As in; “Hi there”, “We visited there last year”, “Is there any point”, “There is no hope for some people”, “Let’s just leave it there”, “Let’s stop over there”, “There she goes!”, “It came from over there” and so on.
THEIR – belonging to them. As in; “Did everyone remember their guns?”, “Their car broke down”, “Their rights were infringed”, “Has anyone seen their baggage?”, “Did somebody leave their hat in the cloakroom?”, “Their presentation stank!” and so on.
THEY’RE – an abbreviation of THEY ARE. As in; “They’re going to regret this”, “Look at the state they’re in”, “They’re clearly lacking a good education”, “I’ll be happy when they’re gone”, and so on.
I wouldn’t normally bother posting but I must see confusion of these words every single day and it is just so hard to take. I can understand such mistakes from people for whom English is a foreign language and who do not pretend to be in any way competent. The vast majority of misuse I see is coming from English speaking people or people whose English language is at a good enough level that they should know better. I see these mistakes in hundreds of mails from people who are old enough to have had an education and smart enough to hold down good jobs and yet apparently unable to tell three of the most used words in their language apart and too damned lazy to Google a definition if they’re not sure. It’s just not good enough, it really isn’t.
They all sound the same. Okay, so what? So do shore and sure but I don’t see too many people writing “Are you shore?” or “I went for a walk down by the sure.”. I also haven’t seen “Are you mail or female?”, although I’m sure I will. I have seen misuse of other homophones – brake and break, tire and tyre – but nothing comes close to the regularity of my anguish at reading passages involving criminal acts with the three words above.
I’m not especially intelligent nor well educated but I can at least understand the fundamental differences between these three simple words and I REALLY wish everyone else could follow my lead! Just how utterly useless is the education system in Britain these days?
From now on, misuse of these words in comments on this blog by people who should know better will not be tolerated. Someone has to draw a line, for heaven’s sake!