1. What is the difference between them and these/those?

  2. What is the usage of them and these/those?

Example sentence -

  1. Some of these are insured by govt...

But I think "Some of them" is more common. But again there is nothing wrong with the quoted sentence.

  • 1
    Completely different words. Them Is the object pronoun and these/those are demonstratives. Maybe posting some attempted sentences might help... Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 17:06
  • I don't get it. By what logic were these organizations or those organizations? (and What's the difference between “these” and “those”? on ELU), and Using “them” instead of “those” (also on ELU) considered "On Topic" (with significant amounts of upvotes for both questions and answers), yet this one is considered "Too Basic"? Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 22:21
  • @FumbleFingers I am going to site an example sentence that I encountered today. There is nothing wrong with that sentence but that one made me thinking and hence I posted this question. Some of these are even insured by govt .... this is the sentence. And I think "Some of them" is more common. Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 1:52
  • Ah. There are 8 planets, and some of them have rocky cores is a completely different usage to Will Hunting's "How do you like them apples?". The former is normal grammatical English, the latter an ungrammatical and non-standard (but common) colloquial usage. Perhaps the earlier closure was right - but you've supplied context now, so the question is okay, even though my answer is probably irrelevant. Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 11:45
  • @FumbleFingers What about this one? There are 8 planets, and some of these have rocky cores Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 12:12

7 Answers 7


They are different words with different meanings, except in colloquial language (slang), where they are often used interchangeably.

1) Usage of 'them': it's the accusative form of 'they' (3rd person plural) so use it in sentences where a 3rd party (someone/some people separate to 'they') is doing an action to 'they'.

Usage of 'these'/'those': they are demonstrative pronouns - the plurals of 'this' and 'that' - so use them to demonstrate something. 'These' is used for items that are in some way closer, more related, or in another way are the more important items of a sentence.

2) Examples of 'them': "John was asked what he thought of them."; "After I gave them a detention, I told them that they weren't making enough effort."

Examples of 'these'/'those': "Why are you trying those shoes on? These ones are much cheaper."; "Those people are silly, these are clever."

Hope this is clear enough and helps! If it does, an upvote and/or accept wouldn't go amiss!


The these/those issue has been covered by these organizations or those organizations?, among others (for most purposes, these = the ones right here, and those = the ones over there, further away).

The use of them as in How do you like them apples? has been covered on ELU by Using “them” instead of “those”. To summarise, although it's a long-established colloquial usage, it's not generally considered "grammatical", so you should use it with caution.


"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

The kids wanted to buy some toys. I told them the store is closed on Mondays

These(plural of this)/Those(plural of that) are demonstratives

They can be used to introduce someone:

These are my friends Frank and Alice.

One usage of this, these, that and those with nouns is to show proximity

These books are for sale (pointing to something close)

Those books are for sale (pointing to something further away)


One thing that other answers touch on but I'd like to talk a bit more about, is the concept of referring to something already introduced

These/those are used to refer to multiple objects in the same way as this/that refer to single objects that are near/far respectively. The objects are generally visible to both people but known to one person and introduced by that person to the other person. After introduction the objects can be referred to using these/those or by using them. Critically we don't use them to make the introduction, and we do use them if we want to talk about all the objects, particularly if we have introduced different groups of objects with both these and those. Carrying on using these and those after making the introduction can be used for clear and effective instruction but can sound like you think the other person is a bit stupid.


These are my apples

The apples are in front of me, I claim ownership

Those are my apples

The apples are further away from me, I claim ownership

These are my apples, and these are your apples

Some of the apples in front of me are mine, some are yours. I should gesture while I say this sentence to indicate which are mine and which are yours

These are your apples. Do you like them?

I introduce the apples, and now may refer to the apples as "them"

These are your apples. Do you like these?

These are your apples. Do you like these apples?

I don't have to refer to the apples using "them" and I don't have to say apples after these (the first sentence) but it sounds less natural than the second sentence (with "apples" after these). Critically, repeated use of "these" sounds less natural than switching to "them" after introduction, and makes it sound either like your command of English is less fluent, or that you're being clear and specific (perhaps too clear and too specific, as though you think the person listening is a bit stupid).

This conflicts somewhat with the notion that in natural English we generally try to avoid repeated word use in sentences that follow on from each other, and is what leads to my recommendation that we use "these are your apples. Do you like them?" - we avoid repeated use of "these" and also avoid repeated use of "apples"

Do you like these?

Do you like these apples?

Do you like them?

You hold up two apples and show the other person. This action makes the introduction that allows the third sentence to work, but either of the first two would be preferred. Do not say "do you like them apples?"

These are my apples. Those are your apples. Put them all in this bag

Multiple different groups of objects are now referred to as one collection, when they must all be put in the same bag

These apples in this box are for the children to eat at lunch. Put them in these bags, one apple per bag

The apples are introduced and then referred to using "them", while "these" is now used to refer to the bags

These apples are for the older children and those apples are for the younger children. I need you to bag them. Put these in those bags and those in these bags, then put the bags in the van.

Two boxes of apples exist, two boxes of bags exist. The apples in the near box should go in the bags that are in the far away box. The apples in the far away box should go in the bags in the near box. After introduction the apples are referred as them and these/those switch to referring to the bags. It is best to avoid switching "them" to refer to the bags, so I just say "the bags" when referring to the group of bags containing the apples. However the person receiving the instruction can perform the switch:

What do I do after I put them in the van?

It would be understood that "them" now refers to the bags, not the apples


Switching to talk about your sentence for a moment, I'll add a bit more context

This broker offers several financial products as you can see in this long list. It's interesting to note that some of these are government backed, and are relatively secure. In addition some of them are only available to people under 30.

I don't have to use "these" here, I could use "them" in both sentences. Them doesn't sound quite so unnatural when used repeatedly, because it typically is used repeatedly.

If you remember back to the list of products on the previous slide, nearly all of those are available to the under 30 age group

Here I use those because the slide is conceptually further away- it was seen in the past rather than being looked at now, even though it may be same physical distance.

So we have those at the top of the page, that are great products for risk averse people, and we have these that are medium risk. Those you see at the bottom are typically high risk, and we don't recommend them. All of the products in this box are legacy; they still exist for people who purchased them, but you cannot buy them as a new customer any more

Use of those to refer to products that are further away on the page (top, bottom) than these we are looking at in the middle. Once introduced we can refer to the high risk products using them. Products in a box can be identified by the fact that they are in a box, and upon being introduced, "them" switches to referring to the boxes products because we have finished talking about the high risk products.

These are high risk products and I don't recommend them. My investors like me because I don't try to sell them to them

These are high risk products and I don't recommend them. My investors like me because I don't try to sell these products to them

Clear writing would aim to avoid using "them" repeatedly as in the first sentence, to refer to both the products and the investors. In a situation where only two things (investors, products) have been talked about it is fairly easy to work out that the first "them" refers to the products and the second "them" to the investors, so it can work as a sentence. The second form is easier to understand, and it is the first "them" that we switch out for "these products" because the most recent introduction we made was "My investors" and that is what is most naturally now referred to by "them", whereas "these products" naturally calls us back to the products talked about in the first sentence.


As my mother always corrected me, and her mother corrected her, "Them are people, those are things!" (I find myself telling my kids too!)

In other words, if talking about people, use the word them. If talking about objects use the word those.

  • Don't know if I'd teach that as a rule to any kids I know, lest they come back saying "Them people over there were calling me names" ? I can think of plenty of examples where them/these are variably used to refer to both people and things..
    – Caius Jard
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 5:23

An insight that I knew all the time but can now express thanks to my learning German:

'Them' is the accusative and dative case of third person plural pronoun (they): I saw them at the theatre. (accusative case) I gave them the apples. (dative case - indirect object)

'These/those' are either demonstrative adjectives or neuter pronouns in the nominative or accusative case (no need to argue that English language has lost the neuter gender).

Demonstrative adjectives: Those boys are from St. Martin's Secondary School. These boys/girls played very well.

Neuter pronoun in nominative (or accusative) case: Where are your blue gloves? Those were too old, I gave those to them (pointing to the persons).

Note that 'those/these' can be used in accusative case while 'they' cannot be used in accusative case. Where the children? I sent them home. Where are the apples? I put those in my bag. (some people may insist that they use 'them' here; but that would not be correct, only korrekt.)

  • Not sure I agree with all of these examples. Where are your blue gloves? Those were too old, I gave those to them - I wouldn't use "those" here because the gloves have already been introduced by the questioner. "They were too old, I gave them to them", though the repeated use of them to refer to first the gloves then to a remote group of people might be better rewritten as "gave them to those people [over there]". Similarly for the bagged apples, "where are the apples? I put them in my bag"; the apples have already been introduced. "These apples are mine, those apples are yours;bag them all"
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 4:23

Them = objective pronoun and it should be with transitive verb, and

these or those = determiner of plural noun/noun phrase

  • This does not answer the question. It's quite clear that the OP already knows these (wait, should it be those, or them, instead of these?). Please read the OP's example sentence carefully. Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 18:34
  • Oops! sorry .. i just read it twice :p it depends on whom or what she is talking about :D (then, you shouldn't vote me down :D
    – don magug
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 18:47

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