(Click to enlarge the image.)
The BBC quotes David Cameron on the result of the Scottish referendum on its live blog (07.50):
"Now the debate has been settled for a generation, or as Alex Salmond has said: 'Perhaps for a lifetime'. So their can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the will of the Scottish people. (My emphasis.)
I long ago gave up using the BBC as a model of English usage for my students but even so this is egregious. The confusion of their, there and they’re is well known – so well known that for that very reason the correct use of these words should be second nature to BBC writers.
For those who may not be sure there is a simple way to remember which is which.
- Their is the possessive of they. The y changes to i as happens in other cases in English: easy/easier or lady/ladies for example.
- There has the same form as its opposite here. This is a coincidence but it is useful to help the memory.
- They’re is the contraction of they are with the apostrophe representing the missing a.