My wife, who is from northern New Jersey, USA, and who has a cold, was looking for a box of Kleenex/facial tissues this morning; she said to herself, "I need those box of tissues." This was not simply a slip on her part; she's used similar constructions elsewhere—using "those/these X of Y" where X is singular and contains several instances of Y. Thus she may say "those box of tissues", "these bag of presents", etc. Her demonstrative adjective will agree in number not with the noun that it modifies, but with the object of the "of" phrase modifying that noun—but only in this situation, where "of" denotes containment.

Is there a well-studied dialect (one that, for example, is described in a language map of the United States) which uses a construction like this, or is this just her?

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    It is not something I recognise as part to any UK dialect. Someone might say 'I need those tissues', meaning a box of tissues, but not 'those box of tissues'. Is your wife perhaps of German or Scandinavian descent. Could it be connected to a construction in another European language?
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 21:15
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    I'm a born-and-bred NYC'er, and have always known people from NJ, and I've never heard this construction either.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 22:08
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    I think this is just she. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 22:45
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    It sounds similar to these kind of mistakes, which isn't uncommon. However, I lived in New Jersey for nearly two decades, and I don't think I've ever heard this construction for anything except words like kind, type, sort, etc. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


Google Ngram has no hits for those box of tissues, but it does have hits for that box of tissues. While this is not definitive, it suggests that this is a personal ideosyncracy of your wife's.

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