Hi All,  over the years as I have been an instructor in a college, I have noticed that many students are somewhat lackadaisical about the use of the nonsynonymous homophones there, their, and they’re.  While to our ears the words are the same, in print they’re very different from one another.  There is no good reason to use the wrong one, especially when we are trying to write our papers.


Here is a suggestion, ask yourself when you are going to use the word “there” – am I pointing to something geographically that is over there?  Or am I using it as an introduction to a sentence like I did above?


Or if I am referring to a group of people who possess something, I will use “their.”  In a sentence it reads like this, “Their new house became their home in a matter of a few days.”


Or if I am using a contraction of “they are” I will simply avoid using it because contractions are not suitable for academic writing in the first place.


I’m trying to put this gently since I am aware that for many of you writing is hard enough the way it is.  However, I would be remiss as your instructor if I did not attempt to have you gain this very important tidbit of information for your writing from here on out! 


If nothing else, use the term nonsynonymous homophones at the dinner table in the next couple of days. Use it as an opportunity to see how many of these words you can come up with.  If you need a definition so you can sound really educated to your family, the term is used to describe words that sound alike to our ears, but have very different meanings.  Need an example of a different one?  “I’m putting the pudding on the table for you to eat.” 


I know of one professor who gives zeroes for any essay handed in that has the wrong there/their/they’re anywhere at all in the  paper.  It’s interesting, even the students who do not have him for class, learn to do it correctly for fear they will get to his class and suddenly find themselves failing!  That is not me and is not true here.


Thanks for reading this far!

Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2020, 2:03 PM