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The question

How much are those jeans?

Does it mean how much are those pairs of jeans? or how much is this pair of jeans? or possibly both?

And when someone flatters me:

I like your jeans

Does it mean they like the very pair I'm wearing, or does it mean all my pairs of jeans? or possibly both depending on context?

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In almost all cases, phrases like "those jeans" or "your jeans" will refer to a single pair of jeans. If the speaker wants to refer to more than one pair, they'll add extra words like "all" or "always" to add this context. Examples:

1a. Are those jeans on sale? (one pair)

1b. Are all of the jeans on sale? (all the pairs in the store)

2a. I like your jeans! (the one pair you're wearing now)

2b. I always like your jeans! (every pair I have ever seen you wearing)

Sometimes that context might be provided with gestures instead of words. If I asked a store clerk, "Are those jeans on sale?" while making a sweeping gesture with my hand across an entire shelf of jeans, then that would mean that I'm referring to all of them. If I'm pointing with my hand not moving, then I'm probably pointing at one pair.

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  • Thank you! That really helps. However, I'm not sure if which one? would be considered a correct probing answer. Can we use one to refer to a single pair of jeans, or does it have to be which ones? – Sara Oct 14 '18 at 22:12
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They both refer to the pair you are wearing at the moment, or any others identical to them that I might find in the store.

These questions do NOT refer to other jeans that you own, which are different in style or origin from the ones you are currently wearing.

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