That’s why it’s important to understand that written English and spoken English are really two different animals.
One of the most common errors in this vein involves the words there, their, and they’re. Take the example in the graphic above.
- There is an adverb indicating relative location or position. Here the writer uses there to describe the location of the bin where defective units are collected. On a related note, there is is a phrase often used in informal communication to convey that something is or exists.
- Their is an adjective used to convey possession of an object or objects to multiple third parties. In this case, those multiple third parties are the workers placing defective units into the bin. Their conveys the relationship between the workers and the defective units.
- They’re is a contraction for the words they are. You can always tell when a contraction is appropriate by replacing the contraction with the extended word form. For this example,
The easy way to remember the difference between these three words which sound alike but function very differently is with a mnemonic device based on the example sentence in the graphic. Just remember that they’re using their words correctly there, and you should be okay.