Thursday, April 4, 2013

There, Their, or They're: You Be the Judge

My son got off the bus last week with a long face. He'd failed the pre-test and came home with the easy list of spelling words. I was surprised; he's good at spelling. As soon as he handed me the list, I understood.

There. Their. And they're. That's what had happened.

Not only had his teacher expected him to spell them right, but he needed to know when to use which one in a sentence. My son had totally botched it up.

Those three words sound EXACTLY the same but are used COMPLETELY differently. How confusing!!

To help him study, I gave him a little lesson with some tips and tricks.

Within this word is another word: here. There usually represents a place.
Very often, if you can substitute here in place of there, you've used it correctly.

This is a possessive pronoun. I reminded my son that "I" was also a pronoun, which was a hint to help him remember that this their is the only one spelled with an i.
If you can replace their with our and the sentence still makes sense, you've used it correctly.

Among these three words (there, their, and they're), this is the only one that is a contraction. It's an abbreviation for they are.
If you can put they are in place of they're, you used the right word.

Now it was time to put his knowledge to the test.

Download a 1-page PDF of this worksheet here.

"You be the judge," I said. "Read the sentences on the post-it notes and decide if the correct there, their, or they're was used."

I reminded him that the scale on my DIY worksheet needed to be balanced, so an equal number of sentences should be on the incorrect side as the correct side.

This took LOADS of thought and he referenced the cheat sheet of hints I made several times. I was so proud when he caught two misplaced sentences moments before handing me the worksheet to check. He'd sorted all the sentences correctly!

I gave him eight sentences to sort. Here they are, along with some extras we'll be using for future practice:

I put my shoes right there.
It was their team's turn to answer.
They're my favorite band!
There is the book I lost.
Their car is blue, not grey.
I asked, but they're out of town that day.
Let's go there.
Their house is the one with the picket fence.
They're too short to ride the roller coaster.

Their are no cookies left!    <<should be there>>
There excited for the party.   <<should be They're>>
Why didn't they listen to they're teacher?   <<should be their>>
Are we almost they're?  <<should be there>>
Their daydreaming, instead of listening. <<should be they're>>
There project was the winner. <<should be Their>>
My favorite pizza place is right their.  <<should be there>>
I can't see them; there too many people here.  <<should be they're>>
Lots of people are stopping at there lemonade stand. <<should be their>>


  1. I love this activity! What a great way to learn when to use the correct word.

  2. using this to review over summer-thanks for sharing

  3. What a great activity! I used Suzy Red's There, Their, They're song when I taught third grade. It was so cute to hear the kids humming while spelling. Here's the link to her song.

  4. Wow this looks amazing- definitely adding to my teaching toolbox! Can't wait to try this out!!

  5. I am sorry to say that you have an error in your answers in the last page. I can't see them; there too many people here. <> The answer really is <>
    Mary Sue Dayton, English teacher/ESL teacher for 40 years.

    1. You're right. There is an error. Thanks for pointing it out, Mary.

  6. simply ,thank you for this lesson