Social networks in the Czech Republic, as well as many "alternative" websites are full of death threats, but Czech prosecutors refuse to prosecute these.


Would it be possible to replace the word "these" with "them" in the sentence above?

3 Answers 3


Probably not in this context. "Them" is "used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified" (Oxford Dictionaries), while "these" (the plural of "this") is "used to identify a specific person or thing close at hand or being indicated or experienced." (ibid.)

As the article continues with "These death threats are usually hurled at politicians and journalists," and further states

The statement "To shoot the fucker", which was sent to Ondřej Kundra, is a very vague statement, says a State Prosecutor in an official response to the Respekt weekly. "Considering where it was published and considering that an infinitive has been used, it is obvious that the statement is not directly aimed at journalist Ondřej Kundra. The statement cannot be seen as incitement to violence in terms of Article 364 of the Czech Penal Code, because when the context and the situation in which the statement was made is taken into consideration it is obvious that the statement cannot incite other people to commit a criminal offence.

it seems clear that in the first sentence cited, the author (or translator) believed there was no easily identifiable "them" to prosecute in these instances, but was referring instead to the deplorable use of online death threats in general. One cannot prosecute a crime itself, only persons committing such crimes. For these reasons, it follows that changing "these" to "them" in the first sentence would only confuse the meaning of the following and subsequent sentences.

However, taken out of context, it would be grammatically correct and sensible to replace "these" with "them"; but as the article is written (or translated) it would be inappropriate.


Here, "these" is rendered as "ones referred to", and thinking that "them" can, but would likely not be used to address "things", we can assume that - no, it is better not to replace "these" with "them".


To use these or those there would be acceptable, if conversational. You could replace either with them, though it would lack the force of the demonstrative.

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