Spelling woes

The choice between the spellings THEIR, THERE, and THEY’RE can be the very devil. As MWDEU puts it (p. 897), 

It is not unusual to see these common words misspelled in casual writing. Haste and inattention to detail probably have more to do with most such errors than does actual confusion about which word is which.

But sometimes things run off the rails in more interesting ways, as in the graffito in this photo (taken in Manhattan by a friend of Doug Kenter’s and passed on to me by Doug):

Presumably, this is the work of a tagger who remembered that they’re (homophonous with there) is spelled with an apostrophe and so inserted one in THERE.

You can find more instances of THER’E on the net, most of them representing there rather than they’re:

Who Says Ther’e Is No Beach In Stockport? by Pete Farrow at Audio … (link)

and corresponding instances of THE’RE, again mostly representing there:

they dont die because the’re is stuff in this weeks tv week about them for next week. (link)

(This last example is especially nice because of the apostropheless spellings DONT and THIS WEEKS.)

In the other direction, there are of course apostropheless spellings THEYRE for they’re (though these are hard to search for).

As for their, the really common misspelling is THIER (“I before E, except after C” and all that), though THEYR (which makes the word more transparent) can also be found.

One Response to “Spelling woes”

  1. There’s an apostrophe in there somewhere « Arnold Zwicky’s Blog Says:

    […] and therefore some question about what the prescribed usage should be). Not very long ago I posted a photo illustrating the There’s An Apostrophe In There Somewhere theme (with THER’E […]

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