I have / There are two (of them)

What would be the most natural way of saying that there are two things you would choose rather than one.

For example, when someone asks you a question like

What is the car of your dreams?

or

What would sound more natural as a reply?

``````I have two.
I have two of them.
There are two.
There are two of them.
``````

[e.g. one is Porsche and the other is Mercedes and one is green and the other is blue]

• Probably I have rather than There are - if only because it's your personal opinion. But they're all valid, and it doesn't mean much to "vote" on the best way of putting it. Aug 8, 2013 at 5:06

To me, "of them" comes across as slightly wrong, because it's partitive. Consider:

• "There were six apples on the table; Susie ate two of them."
• "Susie eats apples often. This morning, she ate two."

A quantity of something implies part of a whole: Susie ate a part of the whole set of six apples. But in the second sentence, which isn't partitive, one would not ordinarily say "she ate two of them".

Another example:

• "My two sisters go to church every Sunday."
• "Two of my sisters go to church every Sunday."

The of construction in the second sentence clearly suggests that I have more sisters than two, whereas its absence in the first clearly indicates that I have only two sisters.

Similarly with your favorite colors, or the cars of your dreams: you have a fixed quantity, and you're speaking of the entire set. So you might say "Two of my dream cars are a BMW and a Mercedes" if you mean that you also dream about a Porsche and a Jaguar. However, if the first two are the only ones you dream about, you'd simply say "I have two dream cars, a BMW and a Mercedes." Therefore, when answering the hypothetical question, the elliptical form to use would be simply "I have two," not "I have two of them."

As for "there are two": it's better than either of the "of them" alternatives, and there isn't all that much to choose between it and "I have two."

• I wouldn't find "I have two of them" an unnatural-sounding reply. If the O.P. had asked, "What's the best way to write an answer?" I'd agree with your guidance. As for, "What's the best way to reply [verbally]?" we don't always follow such formalities when speaking.
– J.R.
Aug 8, 2013 at 7:52
• Well, the only response I have is: "I would." But then, I've been told I'm insufferably pedantic. Aug 8, 2013 at 7:55
• Whenever I'm asked if I have a favorite color, I think two things: (1) it depends on the season, and (2) it depends on what I'm buying (my favorite color car isn't necessarily my favorite color underwear). Needless to say, I hate that security question. But now I'm digressing. :^)
– J.R.
Aug 8, 2013 at 7:58