They’re there …

Louise’s witty elaboration on that-witch-which reminds me of one of my peeves about spelling mistakes that result from ignorance (or just bad spelling): they’re-there-their (there are more on my list of peeves, but they’ll  have to wait).

Most people have a problem distinguishing their from there, which seems to me as easy-to-solve a problem as there is in the English language’s miasma of spelling problems.

They’re is there because THEY ARE is being contracted  — as it usually is in when spoken — to THEY ‘RE by the insertion of an apostrophe (more on that little beast anon). The apostrophe replaces a SPACE between the words and the A that begins ARE (that’s why it’s called, appropriately enough, a CONTRACTION).  And in this case, the contraction means that more than one person or object is placed somewhere in the space/time continuum. They are in New York. They’re in Germany. They’ve left their traces in outer space. Who? The stars in outer space.

Their and there are subject to mix-ups, I expect, mainly because of spelling or typing errors.  But an easy way to distinguish them might be to see THEIR as having an I in it, signifying a person, and in this case more than one person (or thing) with one or more possessions or attributes:  I like Siamese cats because their eyes are blue, and – look over there! – they don’t shed their hair all over the place.



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About Alison

FDR & Hitler were still alive when I was born, but just barely. Raised to be a snob, especially about words -- how they're used and pronounced and spelled. Retired from office work but not from Glossophilia. Travel quite a bit, often revisiting sites I already like (cf. re-reading favorite books). I listen to opera and other classical music, AKA 'good' music, and go to concerts & operas in NYC and on my travels. I take a lot of photographs. I am very close to a younger sister who lives nearby and have an elderly dachshund. I am nowhere nearly as snobbish about red wines as about words, writing, speaking and behavior, but then I know a lot less about red wines.

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