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Use of these and they

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:44 am
by sreyoshi
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

Re: Use of these and they

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:47 am
by odyssey
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".

Re: Use of these and they

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:21 am
by sreyoshi
thanks... :)

Re: Use of these and they

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:28 pm
by Kevin Vosper
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

Re: Use of these and they

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:46 pm
by sreyoshi
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....

Re: Use of these and they

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:23 am
by odyssey
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.