Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the question What's the difference between "these" and "those"? it's said that the choice between "those" or "these" is distance (physical or perceived) from the object. But, which one would I use to refer to the subject of a previous sentence, as in the following example:

As discussed previously, there may be apples that emit light of longer wavelength. Those red apples can’t be used in grandma's apple pie, as the recipe specifically demands green apples.

share|improve this question
1  
"This, my dear Watson, is elementary", would not have made as famous a quote. Why did he have to say "that"? Was it far? –  Kris Apr 24 '12 at 2:09

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In this case, "these" vs "those" is based on whether the object is the subject of the discussion. Based on the context you provided, it looks like the topic at hand is grandma's apple pie (or this apple pie, as it could be written if it were made clear already it was grandma's apple pie being discussed), and that the coming sentences will discuss the pie/recipe and not the red apples, which are tangential to the pie.

Alternately, if the recipe was merely being mentioned, and we were to continue discussing the red apples, it could be written as "these apples" and "that pie".

Analogous to the distance, this case of these/those is based on relevance (or perceived distance from the topic at hand).

share|improve this answer
    
In that analogy the subject of the section opened by these sentences is the oven, and how to construct it so that the pie would have the same taste, despite the use of different apples. –  Ilya Melamed Apr 24 '12 at 2:26

In everyday speech the difference is largely indistinguishable. In British English, however, neither is frequently used, instead replacing your example of 'those' with 'such.'

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for "such", which seems far more appropriate in OP's context. –  FumbleFingers Apr 24 '12 at 14:02

The apples are theoretical and can't be used with something we feel to be close (Grandma's apple pie), therefore, one could use those in this situation, but the difference is insignificant. If one used these instead it would imply to a listener that he was metaphorically holding them or had them close, suggesting that he only had the red apples, not the green ones, but as we're talking hypothetically here, there isn't much that changes. There are no apples.

share|improve this answer
    
In the real sentence the "apples" are computer commands, which makes them intangible. I guess that it strengthen the use for those. –  Ilya Melamed Apr 24 '12 at 2:21

I recommend rewording instead of using these or those in the example, because the connection to the previous sentence seems tenuous. In place of "Those red apples..." consider "Red apples..." or "Such apples...". For example:

...there may be apples that emit light of longer wavelength, ie red apples. But such apples can’t be used in Grandma's apple pie...

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.