There/Their correct usage escapes me...

I am not the smartest monkey fighting over banana’s, and I have a heck of a time putting the correct words where they go. There is a problem with there/their is there a general rule someone 20 years out of school can remember to help them out?

I searched as I am sure this had to have come up in the past but sadly it wouldn’t accept any of my search terms to non specific and when I did get something to work it was over 800 examples and none on the first few pages matched.

For two bonus points, I also have minor problems on were/we’re and all that. And also " 's " or " s’ " and why? but those are bonus questions.
Any help fighting my ignorance would be appreciated.

“There” is a place. You have to be able to go there.

“Their” is possessive. It has to be theirs.

“They’re” is the contraction of “they are.”

Were is a verb and is a past tense form of the verb to be. *We’re[/i[. on the other hand, is a contraction of we are.

The apostrophe-s form is used when the root noun is singular: That is the kid’s pencil (the pencil belongs to that kid). The s-apostrophe form is used when the root noun is plural and ends with s: That is the kids’ pencil (the pencil belongs to those kids).

That help?


Indeed. Note that there contains the word here. Here and there. Places.

To be honest I opened a notepad and put both of your post’s in there to help me. (Like this time I looked at Sattuas’ post to figure out my there up there belonged there.
As its something I messed up a lot it will take some time to get it right. I really appreciate the help, I need it.
:wally Should of paid attention in school.

P.S. Still not sure on the ‘s s’ thing I understand to a degree but thing’s get confusing.

Also, because you asked and because I noticed it in the OP, an apostrophe isn’t used when you use an ‘s’ to pluralize something.

That is, you’re fighting over bananas, not banana’s.

So if I have a bunch of apples its okay but if I stole Ace309’s apples I needed the ‘s in your name? Or the s’?

Correct. The apostrophe is used to show possession. Usually. The major exception is its, which is the possessive form of the pronoun it - note the absence of the apostrophe. OTOH, it’s is the contraction of it is.

Ain’t English fun?

“Ace309’s apples” is correct. You add the apostrophe s to make it possessive.

For plurals, however, it’s s apostrophe. The dogs’ tails.

But here’s one you also need to know. You wrote “its okay” That is short for “it is okay.” As an abbreviation, it’s written it’s. With the apostrophe. The possessive its is the one without the apostrophe, “its tails.”

Not fun at all. Confusing and also the reason I pound the benefits of education into my children with constant books and reading, so they won’t have to be adults trying to figure this stuff out.
Its like brain freeze I forgot everything I was taught, by not using it.

And I missed a ’ up there I think :smack:

No … **should’ve ** paid attention in school.


And not to play dogpile on LostGoals, but it’s should have, not should of. Unfortunately, that’s one mistake that seems to be spreading, most likely due to the use of the contraction should’ve in casual speach, which sounds like should of.

It’s kind of fun, how weird the word “should” starts to look when you type it so many times in one sentence.

We all have the little things that confuse us, and I’m an English major*!

Here’s (apostrophe used because this is a contraction of “here is”) a little anecdote: Our local gas station has little hand-made signs on the gas pumps. These say something like “If your going to pump gas, please have you’re engine stopped.” They’re (another contraction; “they are”) covered in plastic so I am unable to just correct them.

There have been some awesome responses to this thread. I never thought about the word “there” containing “here” and thus helping you remember. The one I recall from grade school is that “hear” contains “ear” and deals with what your ear does, while “here” does not contain “ear” and is a location.

The apostrophe, as mentioned, is used to show possession or to take the place of omitted letters in a contraction. A word like “can’t” for example, is really can not. We omit the second N and the O and replace them with the apostrophe. I can’t (yay!) do better than previous posters in defining possession. And, of course, “its” is that bugger that crops up every once in a while to mess with us.

Basically with an apostrophe, always ask yourself whether or not you are A) making a singular noun possessive [apostrophe-s], B) making a plural noun possessive [s-apostrophe], or C) omitting a letter or letters [we’re = we are].

I am always amazed at folks who learn English as a second language. Particularly in adulthood, it must be horrible to figure out all our rule exceptions and strange grammar patterns.

*Any time I point out my major, I always expect a typo or misspelling somewhere within the post. It goes along with the rule about correcting a previous poster’s grammar!

In this case a dog pile is appreciated. I cannot promise to change everything at once but I will be trying to improve it. Not just for your reading pleasure but so when my son and daughter ask me for help I don’t sound like a dumbass. With almost every other class they have or will have I can hold my own, English though kills me.
I should’ve or should have known that as I saw a prior post about it and made a mental note of it at that time.

Or speech, which sounds like “speach”. :wink:

That’s not an exception! The posessive forms of all pronouns lack apostrophes because they are different words. It’s just that “its” looks like a standard posessive so it’s confusing.

Her -> Hers
Him -> His
Them -> Theirs
Me -> Mine (or My)
You -> Yours
It -> Its

Not an apostrophe in sight.

Good point, sir. Exception was not the right word.

Bookmark this page. Refer to it often. Paul Brians has a huge list of common errors in English, probably because he’s infuriated by people inserting apostrophes into his name :wink:

Yes, but they’re not my apples. They’re the Dopers’ apples.