Thinking about the word “their”

Today’s word is “their”.

If you had to write about “their”, what would you write? At first glance, “their” is such a generic word. Their what? “Their” unto itself is meaningless. “Their” really wants something to come after it.


The most popular words to come after “their”:

  • their own
  • their lives
  • their way
  • their children
  • their work
  • their families
  • their respective

(this pulls from the contents of all the books Google has on file. I limited it to 1997-2019 to get a more contemporary list)

Ok, so now we have all these phrases. “their lives what? What do their lives do? More importantly, WHOSE lives? I dunno. This list does not feel very inspiring.


How about we look up how I’ve used the word “their” on my blog:

  • Idea: each country in the Olympics to have their own mascot [link]
  • 1st century Ancient Romans held their personal belongings in cute containers [link]
  • Did the Jawas get their design inspiration from Peru? [link]
  • Youtube kicked me out of their partner program [link]

“Their” seems to have a definite order:

  1. The owner is declared first.
  2. their” comes in the middle .
  3. The object belonging to the owner is last.
  • The country’s mascot
  • Romans’s belongings
  • Jawa’s design inspiration
  • Youtube’s partner program

I wish I had something else to say about this.


Etymonline’s entry for the word “their”: plural possessive pronoun, c. 1200, from Old Norse þierra “of them,”

“Of them.” That’s an interesting thought. In this case, it sounds so divisive. Like saying “Oh, that’s their problem.”

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