Is the construction "the names of them" used in the sense "their names" totally ungrammatical? Is it acceptable in dialects?

  • You can use ngram viewer to check.
    – V.V.
    Sep 16, 2017 at 11:22
  • 3
    John Locke uses "the names of them", but the guy buying a burger at the football game will say "their names". books.google.com/… I used to know all of the atomic weights of the elements, but now I can barely remember the names of them. Both are viable. their names is used far more often. "the names of them" emphasizes names. Sep 16, 2017 at 13:46

1 Answer 1


"The names of them" is certainly grammatical, just somewhat more awkward than "their names".

I met so many people at the party, I can't remember the names of them all.
I met so many people at the party, I can't remember all their names.

As with many things in English, the order of words can change the emphasis. Without any additional inflection, the first sentence slightly emphasizes names, while the second slightly emphasizes their.

Because it's difficult to fit into a sentence, I would avoid using "the names of them" unless I had a really good reason.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .