Homonyms: confusing words that sound the same

Many people have difficulty distinguishing between words that look or sound the same, such as:

their, there, they’re
than or then
your and you’re

These words are known as homonyms. If you have difficulty remembering the difference between these words, make up some memory jogs to help you.

Their, there, they’re

Their is a possessive pronoun that modifies a noun.

They ate their dinner.

There is primarily an adverb relating to place, but it is also used as an introductory word in a sentence. It is sometimes called the ‘existential there’.

I flew there in a jet plane. (place)
There is no reason why you can’t go. (existential)

They’re is an abbreviation of they are.

They’re late for the meeting.

Than or then

Than is used in comparisons.

She is older than he is. Other than that…

Then is used in relation to time or a sequence of events to mean at that time or soon after.

The meeting discussed expenditure, and then broke for lunch.

Your and you’re

You’re is always an abbreviation of you are. Your is the possessive form of you.

You’re welcome to your opinion, but you’re wrong.

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