As we saw in this week’s Tip of the Week, we’re discussing the word “there” and how it sounds like other words with different meanings. What part of speech is “there”? How do we pronounce it and use it in a sentence? Well, the difficulty comes from the fact that the word “there” is a homophone, which means it has the same pronunciation as one or more other words but a different meaning. Let’s jump into the different ways it’s used.

Download Exercise

The word “there” is an adverb that means “in that place.” We can consider the difference between its meaning and that of the word “here.” For example:

~ Here in Barcelona, the summers are hot and humid.
~ I went to Paris last weekend and had a lot of fun there.


In this case, we use the word “there” to talk about the positioning of something, or to talk about a place. Let’s move on to the next use of this word.

We can also use “there” with the verb “to be” to talk about the existence of something, or how much of something exists. When we dot this, we use “is” and “was” in the singular, and “are” and “were” in the plural. For the future tense, we use “will be” for both the singular and the plural. Let’s take a look at some examples:

~ There is a problem: we don’t have enough money to buy a ticket.
~ There were seven people at the company dinner last night.
~ There will be an exam at the end of the course!


The next homophone that is pronounced exactly the same as “there” is the word “they’re.” This word is a contraction of the personal pronoun “they” and the word “are,” from conjugating the verb “to be” in the 3rd person plural in the Present Simple tense. Let’s see it in action:

~ They’re from Bilbao but they can’t speak Basque.
~ I know they’re not going to help us, but we should ask them anyway.


The last homophone we need to go over is the word “their.” This word is a possessive adjective; in other words, we put it in front of a noun to denote ‘possession’ of something (or someone!). Here are some examples:

~ My car is nicer than their car.
~ Do you know Bill and Dale? Their parents are so nice!


Although these three words are pronounced in exactly the same way, now that we know their different meanings and the different ways they’re used, we can utilize them in our sentences confidently!


A. Edstrom

Download Exercise