Can "those" be used in "those good at writing" or "those who ..." to refer to a group of people shared the same attribute described by the phrase after "those"?

If it is possible (since I have found lots of examples with Google), is "those" here a noun?


As a general rule who + BE and which + BE can be omitted from so-called restrictive relative clauses.

  • Those who are happy with the situation ...
  • Those happy with the situation ...
  • Those who are thinking of leaving ....
  • Those thinking of leaving ...
  • Those who are regularly forgotten ...
  • Those regularly for gotten ...
  • These who have been dropped ...
  • Those dropped ...

In the examples above we see the relative pronoun who omitted from sentences with BE: as the only verb; as part of the present continuous; as part of a passive construction, and as part of a present perfect passive construction.

Now whether the examples without a relative pronoun are actually relative clauses is a matter of some debate. Some people would regard them as post-modifying adjective/participle clauses. However, this nonetheless effectively boils down to the fact that you can always omit who/which and BE from the comparable relative clauses.

Those, when used on its own like this, is classified as a pronoun. Many modern grammars treat pronouns as a subset of the Noun category. So in this sense it is a noun. Those with a following noun, however, is usually classified as a determiner. So in the following it would be classified as a determiner:

  • Those people who are satisfied with the situation ...

This of course is a rather silly situation where we have to treat the same word with ostensibly the same meaning and the same grammar as a different word just depending on what word follows it. Some forward thinking modern grammarians see those as the same kind of word in both instances.

I have occasionally seen it written that pronouns cannot serve as antecedents for relative clauses. However, this only ever really applies to accusative case pronouns: me, him, her, us, them. Even then this is more a case of awkwardness or style, perhaps, rather than ungrammaticality:

  • # May heaven forgive him who steals for his children. (debatable grammaticality)

Notice, though, that this does not apply to those - which does not inflect for case (and could be argued, therefore, to not be accusative).

  • See also this question. – Tim Lymington Oct 28 '14 at 18:33
  • @TimLymington Yes, excellent question and some interesting answers! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 28 '14 at 18:37
  • 1
    Thanks for your elaboration! A misspelling by the way: "this is moe a case of awkwardness" => "this is more a case of awkwardness". – Minsheng Liu Oct 29 '14 at 10:39

In this case those is a pronoun.


Who are can be safely omitted. It is understood. The sentence is still grammatical even if we drop it.

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