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A quick and easy test: the difference between "they're", "their", and "there"

Hi there (and not "their", nor "they're")!

Some students get confused when using the homophones "they're", "their", and "there".
Here's a quick, easy and fun "test" I've done many times to find out whether they really know the difference or not.

I simply dictate the following mini-dialogue:

- Where are your friends?
- They're talking to their parents right over there.

The words are contextualized and their meanings should be clear for students.
If they get everything right, they're good to go. If not, some reviewing might be necessary.

Bear in mind that this "test" should only be done to check previous knowledge and not to introduce the homophones to students as that could confuse them.

Here's a variation to the mini-dialogue:

- Have you seen Jake and Kate?
- Yes, can't you see them? They're there (pointing in a direction) walking their dogs.

Students find the proximity of equally-sounded words funny and they don't notice you're testing them.

If you happen to be reading this post because you'd like to know the difference in meaning between the homophones, here's the explanation:

  • They're - this is the contraction of "they" and "are".
they + are = they're
  • Their - this is a possessive pronoun. It's related to "they" as "my" is related to "I"
I love my cat.
They love their cat.
  • There - this is an adverb of place as opposed to "here".

And there you have my blog post of the day!

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10 words that English borrowed from Spanish

Today is Cinco de Mayo and I thought I'd continue my series about words borrowed from other languages with a list of 10 words or expressions that English borrowed from the Spanish language.

Are you aficionado of languages like me? "Aficionado" is the past participle form of the Spanish verb aficionar, which means "to inspire affection". If you're using the word to describe a man, you have to say "aficionado" and if you're talking about a woman, the right word if "aficionada".

Have you been daydreaming about spending summer evenings in your patio eating barbecue (which comes from the Spanish word barbacoa)? If so, you're really a teacher finishing up a school year!

First thing that comes to my mind is the TV series. No, I wasn't around to watch it, but it was my father's favorite show and I always thought, as a child, that Bonanza was a last name, like Simpsons. The word means "calm at sea" in Spanish, but has taken a different meaning in English: a very large amount, something very valuable.

This comes from the Spanish verb rodear, which means "to surround".

Literally, "little donkey". The "-ito"is a suffix that means small, and that leads me to…

"Mosquito" is a small mosca (fly).

The fifth of May is NOT Mexican Independence Day. It's actually the celebration of the Mexican victory over the French in 1862. Do you celebrate it in your classroom?

The original Spanish word is rancho, but somewhere down the road, English lost the "o".

If you go "mano a mano" with someone, it means that you two are in direct competition, fight (physically or not). This expression can be literally translated as "hand to hand".

The US has many states and countless cities whose names come from Spanish.
"Colorado" is the past participle of colorar, to color.
"Nevada" is the past participle of nevar, to snow.
"Florida" means florid, flowery.
"Montana" is derived from the word montaƱa, mountain.

READ 10 words that English borrowed from French

READ 10 words that English borrowed from Portuguese

Read: Teacher-authors around the world

Thanks for reading and hasta luego!