Them are two good ones, he said.

James Joyce writes this sentence. is that used in an informal way?

  • Them for those is not uncommon in some English dialects. "What are them things over there?" Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 9:08
  • What is uncommon is writing uncontracted are after the "non-standard" pronoun them. In reality, most people who "misuse" them like this would probably say Them's two good ones (contracted singular verb form). Nearly all the rest would at least contract are to a mere schwa - normally transcribed as Them're two good ones. Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 17:53
  • Considering the context of this being in English Learners Stack Exchange, I think it's reasonable to correct your grammar. When choosing between the articles "a" or "an", we should consider the word after it. If the following word begins with a sounded consonant, you will use "a". If it starts with a vowel, you will use "an". This also applies with vowel sounds, even when it begins with a consonant(eg. "an hour" is correct, even though it begins with a consonant).
    – OprenStein
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


"Them are two good ones, he said," though found in a literary work, would not be used in formal English.

James Joyce is not a good reference for "standard" English. Joyce often used language in poetic and punning ways, with multiple meanings for words. To give you the flavor, here's a fairly straight-forward section of Finnegan' Wake:

"What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods! Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax!"

Notice play of words, such as "wills" and "wonts" or "oystrygods" and "fishy-gods". (Do oysters have fishy-gods? Ah, Ostrogoths and Visigoths?)

And he quotes the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes, where he might be referring indirectly to Gilbert and Sullivan.

Read Joyce with dictionary, glossary and footnotes in hand (well, wouldn't them be handnotes?), enjoy his encyclopedic writing, peel the layers like allium, but don't use most of his works to learn formal or colloquial English. You might as well learn English from the Drake, Hoffman, and Livingston ditty, Mairzy Doats.

  • "James Joyce is not a good reference for "standard" English"". That's an astute observation, and deserves to be repeated. I cannot get my heads around a learner of English getting dug into Joyce - I am reminded of my own foolishness when starting to learn German and picking up Goethe, which turned out to be a very bad idea.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 16:30

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