"Malfoy's got detention! I could sing!"
"Don't," Harry advised her.
Chuckling about Malfoy, they waited, Norbert thrashing about in his crate. About ten minutes later, four broomsticks came swooping down out of the darkness.
Charlie's friends were a cheery lot. They [1] showed Harry and Hermione the harness they'd [2] rigged up, so they [3] could suspend Norbert between them [4]. They [5] all helped buckle Norbert safely into it and then Harry and Hermione shook hands with the oth-ers and thanked them [6]very much.
At last, Norbert was going... going... gone.
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

It seems that [1],[2],[3],[4] and [6] refer to ‘Charlie's friends’, yet who dose [5] refer to? Who does ‘they’ refer to?
(1) Charlie’s four friends who are going to visit Charlie taking the little dragon.
(2) Charlie’s four friends plus Harry and Hermione.
(3) Harry and Hermione

  • 2
    There's an "all" after the "they" [5]. My interpretation is that this clearly means it's everyone, i.e., Charlie's four friends, Harry and Hermione. Otherwise, Rowling would just have used another "they". Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 13:18
  • I agree with this. Additionally, the context later in the sentence saying 'they' and then 'and then Harry and Hermione' would lead me to assume that it included Harry and Hermione. Unfortunately, this is not expressly said, it is simple implied. While unlikely, it's possible that it could exclude Harry and Hermione as it's not state precisely.
    – carbide20
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 23:16

2 Answers 2


There's more than one possible interpretation for [5]. “They all helped ...” might mean Charlie's friends helped each other buckle Norbert into the harness, or it might mean Charlie's friends helped Harry and Hermione with the job, or vice versa.

Rowling might have had any of the above meanings particularly in mind when she wrote the paragraph, but there's no way for us to know without asking her. In any case, it really doesn't matter much which meaning the reader chooses; the general idea is that several people helped to get Norbert fastened in.

  • 'They' in [1] are four of Charlies's friends who are going to visit Charlie by way of the Hogwarts. The four of them are getting away the little dragon.
    – Listenever
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 4:00
  • I misunderstood and thought Charlie was among the four persons who landed. Have edited to correct that mistake. Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 4:07

"All" and "others" tell you a lot. If you're clarifying a subgroup, it's generally because you've just referred to a supergroup.

That is to say, others is Rowling giving us notice that she has now unformed the previous grouping of "all."

Concise? 5 is everybody concerned.

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