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I think the sentence

the difference between the behaviour of young people today and that of those in the past

is correct, as that (relative pronoun) replaces behaviour and those (demonstrative pronoun) refers to young people.

Can we also say:

the difference between the behaviour of young people today and the one of yesterday (or and the one of youth in the past)

Can you help me explain why the first one is correct. I can't quite construct the argument, but I know the first example is correct, whilst I'm not sure the second example (using one instead of that to refer to the behaviour) is correct in this case.

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    'Behaviour' is uncountable so you can't use 'one'.
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 11:21
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    That seems to nail it, @Dan. Do you want to make it an answer? Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 11:28
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    You don't need to re-specify either (although it requires a different preposition): "the difference in the behaviour of young people today and in the past", or "...today compared to the past..."
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 11:30
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    Why do you consider that here to be a relative pronoun? Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 2:05
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    @AndrewLeach You could just leave out 'that' as well. "...behaviour of young people today and of those of the past" sounds fine to me
    – BoldBen
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 6:41

1 Answer 1

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In your sentence, 'that' is a pronoun all right (it replaces 'the behaviour'), but NOT a relative pronoun, and not a demonstrative pronoun either!

On the other hand, 'those' actually is a demonstrative pronoun replacing 'the young people'. The reason it is 'those' rather than 'these' is to do with the remoteness implied by 'in the past' as opposed to the closeness of 'today'.

But as Andrew Leach suggests in his comment you can just leave out 'that of those' completely and write 'the difference between the behaviour of young people today and in the past'… same meaning, fewer words, more efficiency!

And, as Dan says in his comment, 'behaviour' is uncountable, so you can't use 'the one' instead of 'that'.

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    How is that not a demonstrative pronoun here? What else would you call it? Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 12:03

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