"these ones"

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"these ones"

Postby skullturf » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:51 pm UTC

I am curious as to whether any native speakers of English find the expression "these ones" to be unusual or strange in your dialect.

For example, somebody discussing two different batches of cupcakes might say "I prefer these ones" or "These ones taste better to me."

The reason I ask is that for me, this usage is utterly and completely ordinary and unremarkable, and would pretty much go unnoticed. However, I've heard of people saying this usage of "these ones" is "wrong", and one should say "I prefer these" or "These taste better to me."

What I am wondering about is whether calling "these ones" wrong is just one of those hyper-prescriptive things, or if there are some regional varieties of English where people wouldn't naturally say "these ones" -- if there are some regions where that phrasing sounds wrong intuitively to native speakers and would not occur in everyday conversation.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:16 pm UTC

South Australia, Australia: "these ones" seems fine.

(I suspect the advice against "these ones" over "these" is due to some sense of frugality, like the prescription for "where are you?" over "where are you at?")
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Re: "these ones"

Postby DaFranker » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:17 pm UTC

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Argency » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:04 pm UTC

I agree that it's probably a case where some dialects prefer to cut down on redundancy, although it's not something I've ever encountered. In your experience, is the same true when speaking in the singular? As in, do people insist that, "I like this one," be shortened to, "I like this."?

Whilst I'm happy to let people speak however they like, I'm not sure I'd agree with the argument that "these ones" is incorrect. Really I lean very slightly in the other direction - truncating the clause like that hides its subject. Nothing incorrect about an implied subject. Sounds a bit casual, though. I'm not saying every clause needs its subject to be explicit, mind, I'm just that I would expect nit-pickers to argue for explicit subjects, not against.

AFAIC, "ones" is a generic plural noun for when you have a heterogeneous assortment of items to name. I mean, if you're talking about pretzels you say "I'll buy these pretzels." If you're talking about Border Collies you say "I'll buy these Border Collies". If you're talking about nation-states you say "I'll buy these nation-states." But when you're at Items'R'Us and you plonk a mixed assortment of pretzels, Border Collies and nation-states down on the counter, you say "Just these ones, please."
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Angua » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:52 pm UTC

I've heard 'these ones', and use it, but I speak a mangled version of Caribbean, US American (mainly Southern), and British English.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby DaFranker » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:02 pm UTC

Here in the "small" province of Québec (which is a small heretic sect within the larger Holy Kingdom of Canadia), the minority of us who speak English natively will, to my knowledge, never use "these ones" in natural conversation. Occurences of the phrase in any business or formal context, even when mixed with people who do not speak "Canadian English", will still make many people cringe or pause to figure out what was said.

The phrase "these ones" rarely occurs naturally among the people I know, as it is here intuitively understood that "this one" implies "this (one pretzel), not any of the other (one pretzel)". By extension, "these ones pretzels" is grammatically incorrect, as in translation and linguistic circles the noun "one" is considered to only have a plural when used to refer to the number, on top of being over-pluralized, so the shortened "these ones" immediately sounds wrong. I believe this grammatical inference is one of the main reasons for prescribing the phrase be cut down to just "these" whenever possible.

Whenever I or any of my english-native friends hear the phrase "these ones", the first thing that comes to mind is that someone is pointing at a particular group of numeral "1"s printed on a sheet of paper, as opposed to any of the "1" numerals on the sheet. English second-language teachers (or the few first-language-english teachers in the rare few English-speaking educational establishments here) will, if they even ever see the phrase "these ones" at all in their career, will almost always mark it as a grammatical mistake.

Mind you, my experience of this is limited to this very specific cultural context, so it might not hold true for all of Canadian English speakers.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby skullturf » Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:57 pm UTC

Here are some links I found that suggest that indeed, "these ones" is considered either wrong or excessively informal by some people in at least some regions.

http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wordroutes/1853/

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language ... 04991.html

This came as a huge surprise to me. I was born and raised in Canada, and lived there for the first 36 years of my life, and I honestly was completely unaware of anybody anywhere objecting to the expression "these ones".

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Re: "these ones"

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:30 pm UTC

Also from Canada (although from the West). I have a feeling that this expression can be used in certain contexts. For example, if I am carrying four shopping bags, and would like you to take two, I can imagine saying "Can you take these ones?", because asking "Can you take these?" might imply that I would like you to take all of the bags. The word "ones" would to me specify that you are clearly referring to some subset of a larger whole, whereas without it, there is some ambiguity.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby skullturf » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:49 pm UTC

Similarly, if we were eating jellybeans, and you said "I like these", I'd probably interpret that to mean that you like jellybeans in general. Or possibly, the specific brand we were eating.

If you held up a red one and said "I like these ones", I'd interpret that to mean that you like the red ones.

Granted, I suppose you could specify that you like the red ones by saying "I like THESE", emphasizing the last word, which might get the point across. But in my idiolect, "I like these ones" is an absolutely ordinary, unremarkable, everyday way of saying that you like a particular type of object. I honestly had never imagined for a moment that anybody anywhere finds "these ones" to be the least bit strange. However, some people in some places do. It's an interesting illustration of how we don't all speak the same language, and we can continue to be surprised by little differences we hadn't noticed, even if we thought we'd seen it all.

P.S. Now that I look back and read what I typed, I notice that I typed "red one" and "red ones" several times. Is it possible that those usages are unusual in some dialects of English? To me, they are among the most ordinary things a person could possibly write, and to me, the expression "these ones" is similar.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby DaFranker » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:57 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Also from Canada (although from the West). I have a feeling that this expression can be used in certain contexts. For example, if I am carrying four shopping bags, and would like you to take two, I can imagine saying "Can you take these ones?", because asking "Can you take these?" might imply that I would like you to take all of the bags. The word "ones" would to me specify that you are clearly referring to some subset of a larger whole, whereas without it, there is some ambiguity.

See, in the aforementioned minority here I'm part of, this would have to be said with "Can you take these two?"; the subgroup would need to be specified, because "ones" simply by default refers to the numeral or to a metaphor using the numeral (e.g. if you're referring to a certain product line labeled "Product One", or that comes in single pieces as opposed to other products from this manufacturer coming in several, people might use "these ones" to refer to that). Of course, within a context like this and in familiar speech, the phrase could be used more freely, but I've never actually heard it in practice. This may or may not be due to most of my English-speaking local friends being strong on grammar and general good language.

skullturf wrote:(...)
P.S. Now that I look back and read what I typed, I notice that I typed "red one" and "red ones" several times. Is it possible that those usages are unusual in some dialects of English? To me, they are among the most ordinary things a person could possibly write, and to me, the expression "these ones" is similar.

Not this particular usage in any dialect of English that I know of, but I know of other languages where such things simply don't work. Count yourself lucky you can use "ones" as a generic set identifier for any countables. Japanese is hell for that.

To clarify: from what I understand, the use of "[qualifier] ones", such as the "red ones" example above, specifies a set of all the (one bean) subsets of the contextually-accepted set of all beans that match the qualifier condition of being red. This goes against the use of "these" as a qualifier, because "these" already specifies a subset of the beans, which means "these ones" would be a redundant identity of the subset, mathematically speaking. It might also just be me.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Scales » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:04 pm UTC

Frightening. Growing up in central Texas, saying "these ones" to refer to multiple discrete objects has always been completely correct and not at all informal. I am sure I represent us as hillbillies, but it is not the case. However, I'll be sure to watch my language around northerners.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

In my dialect (RP), it seems perfectly natural and I'd probably use the "ones" to distinguish between whether it's a concrete or abstract thing I'm referring to (e.g. "I like this" (I enjoy some abstract state/some action) versus "I like this one" (I think this object out of a collection is good)). I'd also use it similarly to Laserguy.

Pez Dispens3r wrote: is due to some sense of frugality, like the prescription for "where are you?" over "where are you at?")


I don't think that's an example of a pro-frugality prescription but rather a dialectical difference where the prescriptivists have said one is "right" because, in my dialect at least, "where are you at" sounds very strange indeed and, if I heard another Brit saying it (even if they spoke with another dialect), I'd be surprised or, at the very least, grumble about Americanisms.

DaFranker wrote:
skullturf wrote:(...)
P.S. Now that I look back and read what I typed, I notice that I typed "red one" and "red ones" several times. Is it possible that those usages are unusual in some dialects of English? To me, they are among the most ordinary things a person could possibly write, and to me, the expression "these ones" is similar.

Not this particular usage in any dialect of English that I know of, but I know of other languages where such things simply don't work. Count yourself lucky you can use "ones" as a generic set identifier for any countables. Japanese is hell for that.

To clarify: from what I understand, the use of "[qualifier] ones", such as the "red ones" example above, specifies a set of all the (one bean) subsets of the contextually-accepted set of all beans that match the qualifier condition of being red. This goes against the use of "these" as a qualifier, because "these" already specifies a subset of the beans, which means "these ones" would be a redundant identity of the subset, mathematically speaking. It might also just be me.


Also, compare it to the even simpler construction prevalent in Romance languages where the adjective is simply treated as a noun. This usage is so widespread that in many such languages, nouns are referred to as substantives (from substantive adjective, the name for this construction) and the term noun or name is reserved for proper nouns.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby raike » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:21 pm UTC

It's entirely natural to my Oklahoma-raised self to say 'these ones', although I'm a bit likely to say 'thems' or 'them', or slur 'these ones' to 'these'ns'
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Derek » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:23 pm UTC

From North Carolina, "these ones" sounds wrong, although I think I've heard it before. "This one" is ok though.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby DaFranker » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:34 pm UTC

Incidentally, as per my above english-to-set-logic paragraph, the phrase "Which ones?" could be a good example of the use of metasyntactics in everyday speech, since the "which" becomes an arbitrary and unspecified subset for the listener to define.

Interestingly enough, this in itself justifies the use of the phrase "these ones" as a response to that particular question, since it seems (at least, from a programmer's mindset) to return the exact kind of information/identity required by the question by passing its own reference.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Aiwendil » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:01 am UTC

I'm from northern New Jersey, and 'these ones' sounds quite correct and unremarkable in my idiolect. If I had to guess, I'd say that the feeling of 'wrongness' some people have concerning this usage is rooted in an uncomfortability about pluralizing the word 'one'.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby goofy » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:24 am UTC

DaFranker wrote:Here in the Holy Land of Canadia, I've never heard anyone using the phrase "these ones" in serious conversation. Any usage of the phrase in a business environment will make people cringe.


I'm also from Canadia and it's a normal part of my language. I'm surprised to learn that so many people don't like it.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby MrDrake » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:35 pm UTC

Sydney, Australia (not Canadia) and "these ones" sounds perfectly acceptable. In fact, just saying "these" doesn't sound emphatic enough.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Sandor » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:59 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote: is due to some sense of frugality, like the prescription for "where are you?" over "where are you at?")

I don't think that's an example of a pro-frugality prescription but rather a dialectical difference where the prescriptivists have said one is "right" because, in my dialect at least, "where are you at" sounds very strange indeed and, if I heard another Brit saying it (even if they spoke with another dialect), I'd be surprised or, at the very least, grumble about Americanisms.

I hope you wouldn't object to "where are you to?", because that's what I grew up with in the South West (of England). As for "these ones", it sounds fine to me, but I don't think I would actually say it.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:10 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote: is due to some sense of frugality, like the prescription for "where are you?" over "where are you at?")


I don't think that's an example of a pro-frugality prescription but rather a dialectical difference where the prescriptivists have said one is "right" because, in my dialect at least, "where are you at" sounds very strange indeed and, if I heard another Brit saying it (even if they spoke with another dialect), I'd be surprised or, at the very least, grumble about Americanisms.

Americans who protest "where are you at?" usually frame their objection in those terms, that "where are you?" means the same thing but is one syllable shorter and, therefore, infinitely more preferable.

I'm fairly ambivalent. "Where are you at?" isn't a common construction where I'm from, so people don't tend to complain about it. It just seemed to me like an example of a similar thing.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:18 pm UTC

I'm from Southern England and "these ones" or "those ones" seem perfectly fine to me,

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Re: "these ones"

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:24 pm UTC

Sandor wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote: is due to some sense of frugality, like the prescription for "where are you?" over "where are you at?")

I don't think that's an example of a pro-frugality prescription but rather a dialectical difference where the prescriptivists have said one is "right" because, in my dialect at least, "where are you at" sounds very strange indeed and, if I heard another Brit saying it (even if they spoke with another dialect), I'd be surprised or, at the very least, grumble about Americanisms.

I hope you wouldn't object to "where are you to?", because that's what I grew up with in the South West (of England).


I can't say I've ever heard that before and it certainly surprised me seeing it now.

Pez Dispens3r wrote:Americans who protest "where are you at?" usually frame their objection in those terms, that "where are you?" means the same thing but is one syllable shorter and, therefore, infinitely more preferable.


Well, I can't say I have a huge experience of AmE prescriptions, but, even if they often phrase their objection that way, I'd be surprised if that's how it originated; prescriptivists are hardly immune to getting the wrong end of the stick :roll:
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:44 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Well, I can't say I have a huge experience of AmE prescriptions, but, even if they often phrase their objection that way, I'd be surprised if that's how it originated; prescriptivists are hardly immune to getting the wrong end of the stick :roll:

Very true!
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Re: "these ones"

Postby skullturf » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:51 pm UTC

Sandor wrote:I hope you wouldn't object to "where are you to?", because that's what I grew up with in the South West (of England).


Interesting! I'm originally from the west coast of Canada, and "where are you to?" is not in my dialect, but I have heard Newfoundlanders say it. And supposedly (I am not a historian or linguist) Newfoundland English is influenced by Irish English and Cornwall / Somerset / SW England English. (Superficially, Newfoundland accents can resemble SW England accents, at least to outsiders like me. E.g. the vowel sound in "like" or "line".)

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Sandor » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:11 am UTC

skullturf wrote:
Sandor wrote:I hope you wouldn't object to "where are you to?", because that's what I grew up with in the South West (of England).

Interesting! I'm originally from the west coast of Canada, and "where are you to?" is not in my dialect, but I have heard Newfoundlanders say it. And supposedly (I am not a historian or linguist) Newfoundland English is influenced by Irish English and Cornwall / Somerset / SW England English. (Superficially, Newfoundland accents can resemble SW England accents, at least to outsiders like me. E.g. the vowel sound in "like" or "line".)

I'm actually from Bristol, and Wikipedia has this to say about the Bristolian dialect:

Further Bristolian linguistic features are the addition of an additional "to" in questions relating to direction or orientation, or using "to" instead of "at"(features also common to the coastal towns of South Wales probably reflecting the use of "tu" in Welsh, e.g., "Y mae efe tu maes" - "That is he to outside" = "He/It is outside"); and using male pronouns "he", "him" instead of "it". For example, "Where is it?" would be phrased as "Where's he to?" and "Where's that" as "Where's that to", a structure exported to Newfoundland English.

I haven't lived in Bristol for many years and have lost a lot of my accent, but I deliberately still use this structure because it seems to confound many native speakers.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Argency » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:47 am UTC

DaFranker wrote:The phrase "these ones" rarely occurs naturally among the people I know, as it is here intuitively understood that "this one" implies "this (one pretzel), not any of the other (one pretzel)". By extension, "these ones pretzels" is grammatically incorrect, as in translation and linguistic circles the noun "one" is considered to only have a plural when used to refer to the number, on top of being over-pluralized, so the shortened "these ones" immediately sounds wrong. I believe this grammatical inference is one of the main reasons for prescribing the phrase be cut down to just "these" whenever possible.


Ah, now I see where the disagreement between our dialects resides. To both of us, the word "one" can apparently be used as a noun as in, "A collection of ones and zeroes," and a determiner as in, "One can of tuna, please." We presumably also agree that it can be a pronoun as in, "One should not pick one's nose in public." The point of difference seems to be that my dialect also acknowledges it as a noun in another function - as a synonym for "individual" or "unit" as in, "Please, master, do not punish this one!"

Where I say "these ones", I could happily swap in "these individuals" or "these items" without changing the meaning or flavour of the sentence at all, except in the sense that that isn't how it's normally said, so it would sound odd. In fact, now that I think about it an individual is usually a person, an item is usually man-made, and a unit is generally some part of a greater whole - "ones" is the most general of the generic which is why it's useful. I could of course swap in "these shopping bags" or "these red jellybeans" except that it's implied by context which ones I mean, so there's no need. So from where I'm standing it's perfectly correct in Brittish and Australian English, although I can see how some other dialects might not use it.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:31 pm UTC

DaFranker wrote:in translation and linguistic circles the noun "one" is considered to only have a plural when used to refer to the number
Really? So you'd never say something like, "Which ones?" to ask for clarification or, "the ones over there" to give it?
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Re: "these ones"

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:54 pm UTC

Argency wrote:Where I say "these ones", I could happily swap in "these individuals" or "these items" without changing the meaning or flavour of the sentence at all,


"which are your favourite pair of trousers/glasses/pants?"
"*points* these items."

yeeeeah that doesn't work. :|

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Softfoot » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:06 am UTC

If you asked me which pair of pants were my favourites, I might respond with 'I like these', 'these' or 'these ones'. I wouldn't respond with 'I like these ones'. For me, this wouldn't be a selection made according to grammar - my choice of phrasing is more strongly linked to the prosody of the phrase.
However, I'd be more likely to use 'these ones' if I was trying to overcome a communication difficulty - the added stress and the near-redundancy of saying 'these ones' would, in many cases, help to get my message across. If my communication partner still indicated they hadn't clearly understood, I'd probably pick up the relevant pair of pants and say 'I like these ones with the added stress. Alternatively I'd start describing the pants: 'The grey ones with the white pinstripe', or 'the jeans with the frayed cuffs that I wear all the time'.
Considering my own usage of the phrase, if I heard someone use 'these ones' I would assume they are using it to reinforce their message - either as a habit, or because for some reason I'm not responding in a way that indicates I've understood them.

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Re: "these ones"

Postby Argency » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:43 am UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
Argency wrote:Where I say "these ones", I could happily swap in "these individuals" or "these items" without changing the meaning or flavour of the sentence at all,


"which are your favourite pair of trousers/glasses/pants?"
"*points* these items."

yeeeeah that doesn't work. :|


[Disclaimer: I may be about to showcase my own shameful ignorance. If so, please don't judge my opinion on the point of grammar under discussion in this thread by my ignorance of this unrelated topic; let my arguments stand on their own without reference to my authority as a linguist.] In the example of pants/glasses/trousers, aren't we talking about one singular pair, meaning we should speak in the singular? That's half the awkwardness of that example explained away right there if you ask me.

But I agree that it still sounds wonky, so I guess I may have been wrong to quote item (or any of those others) as a perfect synonym; it's less general and the focus of the term isn't so much on the unity of the subject. I suppose there won't be another word which perfectly matches the Australian English dialect's use of the word "one", or else we wouldn't have a need for "one" in that usage. Anyway, regardless of my ability to think of a perfect synonym in a language which arguably HAS no perfect synonyms, lets argue against arguments and not against examples or we'll be nitpicking all day. My argument above was that some dialects of English seem to use "one/s" as a generic placeholder noun to replace most/all subjects, a use which doesn't seem to be shared by some Canadians.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:06 pm UTC

Argency wrote:In the example of pants/glasses/trousers, aren't we talking about one singular pair, meaning we should speak in the singular?
I seriously doubt you'd ever say "my pants doesn't fit right" or "my glasses helps me see". It doesn't require any kind of advanced knowledge of grammar to notice that those sound wrong.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Angua » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:22 pm UTC

You would say 'my trousers are blue' but 'my pair of trousers is blue'. This is because (or at least how it works in my head) if you're using a collective, then you use the number of the collective for things that depend on quantity (like verbs). This even works for questions 'how much milk' vs 'how many cups of milk'.
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Argency
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Argency » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:46 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Argency wrote:In the example of pants/glasses/trousers, aren't we talking about one singular pair, meaning we should speak in the singular?
I seriously doubt you'd ever say "my pants doesn't fit right" or "my glasses helps me see". It doesn't require any kind of advanced knowledge of grammar to notice that those sound wrong.


Read the example again, yours is a different useage, and doesn't apply to the topic at hand. In your example you're not talking about the trousers as a pair, so I agree that it is obviously plural because you have two trews in your pair of trousers. But you have only one favourite pair of trousers, so when someone asks you which is your favourite, you reply in the singular. I'd never say, "My pants doesn't feel right," but I WOULD say, "This pair of pants doesn't feel right."

Presumably you don't think it sounds right to say, "This pair of pants don't feel right." In their example, AvatarIII pluralised the sentence even though he was talking about a singular pair, that was wrong in the same way that "this pair don't" is. Other, correct examples of pluralisation are irrelevant.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:16 pm UTC

Argency wrote:In their example, AvatarIII pluralised the sentence even though he was talking about a singular pair
So just drop "pair of" and the awkwardness is still there:

Which are your favorite trousers?
These items.
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Argency » Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:35 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Argency wrote:In their example, AvatarIII pluralised the sentence even though he was talking about a singular pair
So just drop "pair of" and the awkwardness is still there:

Which are your favorite trousers?
These items.


If you care to read the post you originally referenced again, you'll see that I have already said this.

But I agree that it still sounds wonky, so I guess I may have been wrong to quote item (or any of those others) as a perfect synonym; it's less general and the focus of the term isn't so much on the unity of the subject. I suppose there won't be another word which perfectly matches the Australian English dialect's use of the word "one", or else we wouldn't have a need for "one" in that usage. Anyway, regardless of my ability to think of a perfect synonym in a language which arguably HAS no perfect synonyms, lets argue against arguments and not against examples or we'll be nitpicking all day. My argument above was that some dialects of English seem to use "one/s" as a generic placeholder noun to replace most/all subjects, a use which doesn't seem to be shared by some Canadians.


You seem to be agreeing with me?
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Re: "these ones"

Postby Sir Novelty Fashion » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:51 pm UTC

"These ones" sounds acceptable, but in most cases I'd probably use just "these". The issue of specificity can likely be avoided by selection of a better verb, such as "prefer".
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