One thing that drives me crazy, and may do the same to you is when people misuse the words in the title of this post. My students have trouble knowing which to use when, so I came up with these simple pointers to teach them the proper use of the homophones for the word “there.”
One week, I’ll make a spelling list of nothing but the words there, their, they’re, theirs, and there’s. I teach these rhymes to remember which is used when.
When to Use There, Their, or They’re
When you’re writing about WHERE,
If it’s not HERE, it’s always THERE.
Notice how the location words all have the spelling HERE inside them? Point that out to your students. That’s the trick to remembering THERE.
Once upon a time a little HEIR
Lived inside of the word THEIR.
When he was joined by other HEIRS
The things they owned became all THEIRS.
Notice again the spelling of the word HEIR inside the ownership version of THEIR.
If your sentence can use THEY ARE
Put an apostrophe into THEY’RE.
When THERE IS fits the sentence heard,
THERE’S an apostrophe in the word.
We spend the week learning these tips, and using them in context. At the end of the week, I give them a test. It’s a reading passage with all the homophones for the word “there” removed. They must write the correct spelling of each one in the empty spots.
For example I read this aloud, filling in there, their, and there’s. The students must write the correct spelling in each blank.
________ are fifty states in the United States. Some of ___________ names have historical significance. _____________ a trick to remembering _________names in alphabetical order.
By the end of a week, most students have mastered the proper use of these troubling words. In fact, one of my students went home last month and taught his parents how to use these words. (I hope they didn’t find it annoying to have their ten-year-old teach them grammar!)
If these words give you trouble, they won’t any longer, after you learn these rhymes to remember them.