EnglishClub
Home Learn English Teach English MyEnglishClub


Use of these and they

Questions from teachers about English grammar and usage

Moderator: Susan

Use of these and they

Unread postby sreyoshi » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:44 am

Heyy all,

When exactly to use 'they' to indicate inanimate plural objects, and not use 'these?' For example, for the question 'Whose trousers are these?' should the answer be 'These are mine' or 'they are mine'? If 'they', then why? In other words when can 'they' be used as a demonstrative?

Thanks....

Sreyoshi
User avatar
sreyoshi
Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:15 am
Location: India

Re: Use of these and they

Unread postby odyssey » Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:47 am

The use of "these" implies vicinity and demonstrates the item under discussion. The questioner is close to the item. Almost by definition, the answerer cannot be as close. The parallel answer might therefore be "Those are mine" rather than "These are mine." But since there is no longer any need to be demonstrative, the answerer can use the neutral pronoun "they".
odyssey
Busy Member
Busy Member
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 5:33 pm
Location: UK

Re: Use of these and they

Unread postby sreyoshi » Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:21 am

thanks... :)
User avatar
sreyoshi
Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:15 am
Location: India

Re: Use of these and they

Unread postby Kevin Vosper » Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:28 pm

Dear sreyoshi

Just an extra point. "Trousers" is a plural noun (e.g. two) so "they" is correct. However, with singular nouns such as a pen the question would be, "Who's is this?" and the reply would be, "It is mine."

Kevin
Kevin Vosper
Prolific Member
Prolific Member
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:35 am
Location: Locri, Italy

Re: Use of these and they

Unread postby sreyoshi » Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:46 pm

heyy Kevin,

yes, you are right about that...I was basically confused with the plural... :) ...but just another thing, why 'who's'? wouldn't that be 'whose'?

cheers....
User avatar
sreyoshi
Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:15 am
Location: India

Re: Use of these and they

Unread postby odyssey » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:23 am

sreyoshi wrote:but just another thing, why 'who's'? wouldn't that be 'whose'?

You're absolutely right: it should be whose. But that's a very typical mistake that we (mother-tongue speakers) make, especially when fiddling around with lots of "quote marks" and thinking of things like it's or it is or its! Well spotted!

And Kevin makes a very good point about the singular.
odyssey
Busy Member
Busy Member
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 5:33 pm
Location: UK


Return to Grammar and Usage

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 7 guests