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The New Oxford American Dictionary reports that

USAGE 1 Kind of is sometimes used to be deliberately vague: it was kind of a big evening; I was kind of hoping you’d call. More often it reveals an inability to speak clearly: he’s kind of, like, inarticulate, you know? Used precisely, it means sort or type: a maple is a kind of tree.
2 The plural of kind often causes difficulty. With this or that, speaking of one kind, use a singular construction: this kind of cake is my favorite; that kind of fabric doesn’t need ironing. With these or those, speaking of more than one kind, use a plural construction: these kinds of guitars are very expensive; those kinds of animals ought to be left in the wild. Although often encountered, sentences such as I don’t like these kind of things are incorrect. The same recommendations apply to sort and sorts.

For which reason is I don’t like these kind of things incorrect?

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Stumbling across here, I wanted to note that I don't like these kind of chocolates; I like those kind is an utterance that sounds grammatical to me (east coast USA). Perhaps this is why the NOAD says it's "often" encountered. I might "correct" myself in writing, but I'm certain that in speech, I would use these kind for plural items that are right in front of me, especially if they're of one type. ...I tried to test this out on my husband and he also used these kind when I forced him to add kind, but he insists kind is strange and we would usually just say these chocolates. –  aedia λ Aug 18 '11 at 1:47
    
@aedia λ Could it be the sentence is understood as "I like these (kind of) chocolates"? What you wrote could be an answer from the point of view of a native speaker. –  kiamlaluno Aug 18 '11 at 9:25
    
I was just thinking the same thing this morning! You read my mind, @kiamlaluno :) I've added an answer with some notes from COCA. –  aedia λ Aug 18 '11 at 22:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

these and those are determiners that select for a plural count (and can be compared to this and that). Note, there are some determiners which don't have to agree with the count of their noun (e.g. the).

*I don't like these kind of things.

I don't like this kind of thing.

I don't like these kinds of things.

The first is ungrammatical, the next two are good.

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The point being that while there's a plurality of "things", there's only one "kind" (of things). If in doubt, delete everything that decribes the noun (in this case the "of things" describes what kind of kind) and what's left should still be grammatically correct. –  Steve314 Aug 18 '11 at 22:56

COCA includes about four times as many entries (~1200 to ~300) for these kinds of (plural noun) compared to these kind of (plural noun), indicating that the former is preferred, but the latter is not uncommon in American English.

It's interesting to note that nearly all of the sentences of the form these kind of (plural noun) in COCA are from transcripts of spoken English and in quotes in news:

NPR_TalkNation: ...talk about carbon and carbon footprints and burning fossil fuels and wood and all these kind of things without talking about the carbon in trees.
Fox_OReilly: ...what do you do to prepare people to defend themselves in these kind of situations?

The New York Times exhibits the phenomenon, but no surprise—it's a carefully reported quote:

...Mr. McQuaid said. "What brought me in were the social aspects. You'd see these high-level people running by and want to emulate them. And what really fascinated me even then was how the players could get completely obsessed with these kind of games, and it was just their life, and they could log in for 10, 12, 16 hours a day. "

These kind of (plural noun) is almost completely absent when restricting a COCA search to the academic category, but these kinds of (plural noun) is common, with uses like:

...prudent, without the results of careful studies, to withhold judgment on these kinds of questions.

So, when a formal register is required, as in academic writing, these kind appears to be unacceptable, as NOAD reports.


This follows my experience as a native speaker of American English: the utterance

I don't like these kind of chocolates; I like those kind.

sounds grammatical in my dialect, when it is spoken. It is sensible if I am referring to plural chocolates, but of only one type.

I think that as I say it, I am thinking of these chocolates, and it's as if kind of just modifies the chocolates, like an adjective that doesn't need to be changed for a plural: I don't like these green grapes; I like those red grapes. Perhaps it's because of the shortened form kinda.

Because the these kind version seldom appears in formal writing, though, it might stand out to me as odd and I would probably feel prompted to change it in my own work, even though I wouldn't notice anything "wrong" with it.

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In addition to the other answers, I think using "these" (or "this") often tells you which things you're talking about, so "these kind of things" is often (but not always) a padded form of "these things".

Adding "kind of" can clarify that you're referring to a wider range of things of the same type - not just the ones that you're e.g. pointing at right now - but it's sometimes used when there's no need for clarification.

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