What makes -"I did not like those" an improper answer?

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4

Here is the sentence I speak...

She gave me chocolates, but I did not like those

Natives seem to prefer this with the objective case of 'they'...

She gave me chocolates, but I did not like them

But all natives, do you agree on this?

She gave me chocolates, but they those did not taste good

Maulik V

Posted 2015-03-12T11:15:05.173

Reputation: 66 188

1I'm confused using the pronoun here: Therefore, in order to engage people on the eCommerce websites, it is important to update THOSE/THEM on a regular basis. I'm talking about updating the sites and not the people visiting. – Rucheer M – 2015-03-12T11:30:39.893

1Hmm, I think you've slightly misunderstood. Nobody's said that I did not like those isn't proper English! – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-12T11:30:59.377

@Araucaria come on, now that's what a few (including you) users have been telling me all day :) – Maulik V – 2015-03-12T11:32:20.930

1@MaulikV Absolutely not! We've just said that them is the normal unmarked pronoun for things and that those has a different, deictic meaning. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-12T11:33:51.763

@Araucaria I'll be happy if you clarify this in the answer. For the sake of learning...I mean – Maulik V – 2015-03-12T11:34:20.280

7As an aside, "weren't in good taste" means they went against the flow of decency and manners. His joke was too vulgar for the party and was not in good taste. If you're talking about chocolates or cupcakes, it should be: She gave me chocolates, but they didn't taste good. – J.R. – 2015-03-12T13:13:33.893

@MaulikV I couldn't write an answer as clear and helpful as StoneyB's below! :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-12T13:27:11.357

"weren't in good taste" is as @J.R. described above. "weren't good in taste" is not idiomatic. – Tim S. – 2015-03-12T16:08:44.073

@TimS. Though, "weren't good in taste" is clumsy, and invites the reader to autocorrect it to one of those other forms. – Brilliand – 2015-03-12T16:24:12.947

@J.R. That's why I like you, everyone here and above all, this *lovely site*. How much you help people like me, you actually don't know. Thanks a ton! :) – Maulik V – 2015-03-13T04:44:43.650

Answers

19

Whether those or them should be used depends on the context.

This/these and that/those are called demonstratives, from a Latin word meaning "point". When you use them you are pointing emphatically to a particular object or set of objects, typically to distinguish that object or set from similar objects in the environment.

For instance, if a salesclerk shows you three shirts you might say "I like that one", indicating that you like one shirt better than the other two.

The "environment" also incudes the discourse context: what has been said previously. If you have not yet mentioned anything which might be confused with the object you are talking about, there is no need for a demonstrative, and you use the ordinary personal pronoun.

Yesterday was my birthday, and Sarah and I went out for dinner. After dinner she gave me chocolates, but I didn't like them.

But if it is possible that your reader or hearer will misunderstand what them refers to, or if you want to make it clear that you are distinguishing its object from other objects in the discourse, you use a demonstrative.

Yesterday was my birthday. Kevin gave me a flash drive, and Brad gave me a sweater. Sarah gave me chocolates, but I didn't like those.

Using those distinguishes the chocolates and implies that you did like the other gifts.


Araucaria uses the term deictic, which means basically the same thing; it comes from the Greek word for "point" rather than the Latin.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2015-03-12T11:15:05.173

Reputation: 176 469

+1 Clear and very helpful. I tend to use the term deictic for that general pointy kind of property, but also, like you, use demonstratives to refer to these pronouns/determiners. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-03-12T13:25:57.487

This is good one but now I'm curious about RuchirM's comment: "I'm confused using the pronoun here: Therefore, in order to engage people on the eCommerce websites, it is important to update THOSE/THEM on a regular basis. I'm talking about updating the sites and not the people visiting" What would you prefer there? Those/them? – Maulik V – 2015-03-13T04:49:13.477

The example that RuchirM contains two possible referents for a pronoun, one animate and the other inanimate. I think he's implying that if you use "them" in such a context, readers would interpret the pronoun as referring to the animate antecedent, so using "those" makes it clear that you meant the inanimate one. – Brian Hitchcock – 2015-03-13T05:38:54.503

@BrianHitchcock EXACTLY that's what I have been telling. 'Those' over 'them' for inanimate things. Do you see my point now? – Maulik V – 2015-03-13T11:31:30.670

@MaulikV They and them do not select for animacy as who and whom do. "Hey, where are my chocolates?" "I ate them." – StoneyB on hiatus – 2015-03-13T11:49:26.120

@StoneyB I fully understand that but what do you think in RuchirM's case? – Maulik V – 2015-03-13T12:03:46.333

@MaulikV The problem there is structure, not the pronoun; it wants rewriting, with fewer words. "Websites should be updated, on a regular schedule, to engage people more fully." – StoneyB on hiatus – 2015-03-13T13:11:13.153

1

Do you know the style of jeans that have a tapered leg?
--Oh yes, I like those. I'm not fond of the ones with a flared leg.

Those can refer to something in particular, distinguishing it from other things in its vicinity, whether literally or figuratively.

Figurative vicinity = similar.

Tᴚoɯɐuo

Posted 2015-03-12T11:15:05.173

Reputation: 116 610

Wouldn't it be "the style of jeans that HAS tapered LEGS ? – Brian Hitchcock – 2015-03-13T05:40:27.487

1No, this is a conversation between one-legged pirates. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-03-13T11:22:19.647