Proper use of the word they're in a sentence. Example

  1. They're camping out


  1. They are camping out


  1. Their camping out

Which usage is correct? Is using the word "they're" when referring to more than two people correct?

  • They're and their are pronounced the same (at least in most dialects), but don't confuse them! They're means they are. Their means "belonging to them". Even a lot of native speakers get this wrong!
    – stangdon
    Aug 24, 2018 at 23:39

1 Answer 1


They're is the abbreviated form of they are.

This form is used more in informal writing and when reflecting how people speak. In formal contexts, such as business letters, you should prefer they are.

Both forms are perfectly correct. Which one you choose really depends on the context.

So you are more likely to say:

They're camping out


They are camping out

and if you were surprised when your friend told you that your parents were at the top of a tree, you would exclaim: They are! rather than they're.

Both forms can refer to two or more people. In fact, if you should see a tent pitched in a field, you might well remark that they're camping out when you don't know whether you referring to one camper or half a dozen.

Their camping out... is quite different. You would be most likely to use this construction when you wanted to talk about the implications of people camping out in particular circumstances, for example:

Their camping out in this weather is not a good idea.


Her parents did not approve of their camping out during the winter.

Here their camping out means people's act or habit of camping out.

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