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I'm an English learner. I have a question relating to using pronouns. Here's my example sentence:

Yesterday I bought some furniture for my kitchen. Some of them is so expensive.

I don't know if I should use "them" or "it." And is "is" correct or not?

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  • Hi KumaAra. I really didn't know that we have that community. Thank you for your suggestion. – Huong Oct 19 '17 at 6:11
  • Hello, Huong. You've discovered a weird feature of English (there are many) – some mandatory non-count usages refer to etically countable assemblages. We can't say there were one, two, or seventy-seven furniture / cattle / police. We have to say there were three items of furniture, seventy-seven head of cattle, one police officer. With most nouns (five chairs, two dogs, three sailors ...), the count usage is thankfully available. // Here, you could use '... I bought some furniture for my kitchen. Some of the pieces/items are so expensive.' Though '... Some of it is so expensive.' is better). – Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '17 at 19:02
  • oh, thank you Edwin Ashworth. I've learned so much from your explaination. – Huong Oct 20 '17 at 2:45
  • It's very simple: "furniture" is a non-count noun so you can't use a plural pronoun as a pro-form; instead you have to use the pronoun "it". Now compare the count noun "knife" with non-count "furniture" I bought some knives for my kitchen -- some of them were so expensive vs I bought some furniture for my kitchen -- some of it was so expensive. – BillJ Oct 20 '17 at 8:40
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We don't use plural pronouns for mass nouns. Furniture is treated as a mass (or uncount or noncount) noun. See Cambridge.

This might seem counter-intuitive since most people can count individual pieces of furniture.

Here's an example with another mass noun, milk:

Yesterday I bought some milk for the new refrigerator. Some of it is on the top shelf. I put the rest of it on the bottom shelf.

  • Yes we do, with notional agreement. But very rarely. 'The police were naturally called in to cover the conference. Some of them were there for hours.' – Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '17 at 18:50
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As an English speaker the second sentence just doesn't make sense with "them" as constructed.

If some of the items you bought were very expensive then:

Yesterday I bought some furniture for my kitchen. Some of it was so expensive.

changing the verb to was is a fair indication that you are referring to some of the items which you already have bought.

A lot of times a table and chairs are sold as a dinette set. So:

Yesterday I bought a dinette set for my kitchen. Some of them are so expensive.

So them refers to dinette sets in general, not necessarily the one that you purchased.

To just refer to expensive pieces of kitchen furniture in general, then in the following sentence it is somewhat ambiguous. It can refer to kitchen furniture in general, or to some of the items you bought.

Yesterday I bought some furniture for my kitchen. Some of it is so expensive.

  • thank you MaxW for your explaination. In short, i should use pronoun "It" to refer uncountable noun instead of "they" or "them", right? – Huong Oct 19 '17 at 6:23
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Yesterday I bought some furniture for my kitchen. Some of them are so expensive.

Don't use it or is, use are instead.

  • "Some of them" is wrong, though: it should be "Some of it". – sumelic Oct 19 '17 at 4:52

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