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From Middle English, form Old Norse.


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  1. (possessive) Belonging to, from, of, or relating to, them.
    • 2012 May 5, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool”, BBC Sport:
      For Liverpool, their season will now be regarded as a relative disappointment after failure to add the FA Cup to the Carling Cup and not mounting a challenge to reach the Champions League places.
    • 2013 July 20, “The attack of the MOOCs”, The Economist, volume 408, number 8845: 
      Since the launch early last year of […] two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations. University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete.
    they will meet tomorrow at their convenience;  this is probably their cat
  2. (possessive) Belonging to someone of unspecified gender.
    • 1594, Shakespeare, William, The Comedy of Errors, act IV, scene 3, line 1172:
      There's not a man I meet but doth salute me
      As if I were their well-acquainted friend []
    • 2006, St. John Ambulance, First on the Scene: Student Reference Guide, ISBN 1-894070-56-9, Lesson 2, page 3:
      Place the casualty on their back with feet and legs raised—this is called the shock position. [emphasis in original] Once the casualty is positioned, cover them to preserve body heat, but do not overheat.
    • 2007, J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, (quoted edition: London: Bloomsbury, 2008, ISBN 978 0 7475 9586 1, page 93):
      ‘I mean ... if somebody made a mistake,’ Harry went on, ‘and let something slip, I know they didn’t mean to do it. It’s not their fault,’ he repeated, again a little louder than he would usually have spoken.

Usage notes[edit]

  • For notes on the usage referring to a person of unspecified gender, see the usage notes for they.
  • It is important to distinguish “their” from “there” and “they’re”. “Their” signifies ownership. “There” designates a place (compare here). “They’re” means “they are”.
  • It should also be noted that this is an exception of the "I before E, except after C" rule, as the combination of "ei" in the middle of the word is not after a "c".

Related terms[edit]

  • they, them (personal pronouns, subject & object case)
  • theirs (possessive pronoun)


See also[edit]


Scottish Gaelic[edit]




  1. Future tense of abair

Usage notes[edit]