Since I'm not a native speaker, I've encountered the two examples that makes me confused..

Here are the examples:

  1. "I still dream of THEM wolves, THOSE endless prairies."
  2. "First of THEM true loves singing on the shoulders."

Please, could anyone explain me why THEM/THOSE were put at all, is it because of the emphasizing?

In the first sample the both nouns are in the plural form, then why in the first one is THEM and in the second THOSE? And in the second sample why is there THEM, if the sentence might have been worked without it?


1 Answer 1


Some colloquial usage substitutes them for those. It's not considered proper grammar, but is popular in certain (typically, rural) areas. I would say that your examples come from fiction, and are intended to convey a rustic speaker.

These words aren't there for emphasis (you'll notice that I'm not using "these" in this sentence for emphasis either); rather they are intended to convey that the noun that they're paired with is a specific example, or are specific examples, of the noun. This and these, that and those are demonstrative pronouns, used to indicate some sort of proximity or relationship to the speaker. This is singular and these is plural, and mean a "proximal" or close relationship. That is singular and those is plural, and mean a "distal" or more distant relationship. The proximity involved is roughly equivalent to "here" and "there", and some colloquial usage will say "this here thing" and "that there thing" to emphasize this difference.

These sentences should clarify the differences:

Do you want this sandwich or that one?

In this sentence, the speaker might point at a sandwich right next to him first and then at one further away, not immediately in reach.

These marbles are bigger than those.

In this case, the speaker might be first referencing some marbles in his hand, and then point at another group of marbles further away.

  • I removed the "AmE" bit, since I see no reason to think it either originated, or is more common in AmE than BrE. So far as I know, it's widespread in all Anglophone regions, but feel free to revert the edit if you think different (especially if you can cite support for the "predominantly AmE" classification, which I haven't been able to find). Jun 29, 2014 at 13:13
  • I'd also note that in some "downmarket, rustic" dialects (and facetious borrowings therefrom), such as "Do ya think that there Obama is a tree huggin' hippie?" there's really no meaningful element of "spatial proximity". Even the miniscule "figurative" allusion (the Obama that was far from our focus of attention until just introduced by this statement) wouldn't normally be consciously recognised by either speaker or audience. Jun 29, 2014 at 13:21
  • 1
    1. I'm fine with removing "AmE". Now that I think of it, there are plenty of examples in BrE as well. 2. I agree that there isn't any sort of spatial proximity in that sentence, however I would think that "that there Obama" denotes a specific relationship. "That there Obama" suggests "the Obama with whom we are all familiar."
    – BobRodes
    Jun 29, 2014 at 22:39

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