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their

[ thair; unstressed ther ]
/ ðɛər; unstressed ðər /
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pronoun

a form of the possessive case of plural they used as an attributive adjective, before a noun: their home;their rights as citizens;their departure for Rome.
a form of the possessive case of singular they used as an attributive adjective, before a noun:
  1. (used to refer to a generic or unspecified person previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): Someone left their book on the table.A parent should read to their child.
  2. (used to refer to a specific or known person previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): I’m glad my teacher last year had high expectations for their students.
  3. (used to refer to a nonbinary or gender-nonconforming person previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): My cousin Sam is bad at math, but their other grades are good.

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Origin of their

First recorded in 1150–1200; Middle English their(e), ther(e), from Old Norse theirra “their”; replacing Old English thāra, thǣra; cf. they

grammar notes for their

See he1, me, they.

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH their

their , there, they're
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

THEIR VS. THERE VS. THEY'RE

What’s the difference between their, there, and they're?

Their is the possessive form of the personal pronoun they, essentially meaning belonging to or possessed by them, as in Is that their car, or ours? There is commonly used to introduce sentences or to indicate where something is, as in It’s over there, next to the window. They’re is a contraction of they are.

There are many instances in which they’re confused because their pronunciations are exactly the same. (See what we did there?)

There are easy ways to remember which spelling is right, and they’re actually built into each word.

You can remember that their is the one that’s used to show possession (like his and her) by remembering that it includes the word heir (a person who inherits possessions).

When it’s used to indicate location, there functions a lot like here (even though it can mean the opposite), and the word here is right inside of it.

The apostrophe in they’re indicates that it’s a combination of two words and signals that it’s the one you want to use when you mean they are.

Here’s an example of their, there, and they’re used correctly in the same sentence.

Example: It’s hard to work as a team in that environment—when they’re in there, they’re their own worst enemies.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Quiz yourself on their vs. there vs. they're!

In what order should their, there, and they’re be used in the following sentence?

_____ shoes are over _____, right next to where _____ sitting.

A. their, there, they’re
B. there, they’re, their
C. they’re, their, there
D. their, they’re, there

Example sentences from the Web for their

British Dictionary definitions for their

their
/ (ðɛə) /

determiner

of, belonging to, or associated in some way with themtheir finest hour; their own clothes; she tried to combat their mocking her
belonging to or associated in some way with people in general not including the speaker or people addressedin many countries they wash their clothes in the river
belonging to or associated in some way with an indefinite antecedent such as one, whoever, or anybodyeveryone should bring their own lunch

Word Origin for their

C12: from Old Norse theira (genitive plural); see they, them

undefined their

See they
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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