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I know many people use it, but it really does sound informal. Should I avoid it anyway?

Case is. I have a pair of earings on the table and I want to refer to them, so I say:

  • "Are you talking about those ones?"
  • "Are you talking about those?"

Is the second case better than the first? Are there other ways to say it?

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  • 9
    Wait, are you talking about these ones? 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1. They look safe to me, no reason to avoid them.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 20, 2016 at 11:39
  • 1
    I was talking about a pair of earings, actually.
    – Patrick
    Mar 20, 2016 at 11:41
  • 1
  • "Which ones are you talking about? These ones? Or those ones?" This may occur in speech, sure. But you could just say "These or those?"
    – GEdgar
    Mar 7, 2018 at 12:24
  • 1
    Whatever the arguments, the fact remains that 'these ones/those ones' (books.google.com/ngrams/… ) are in more common usage than (say) 'this other one'.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 3, 2018 at 12:58

11 Answers 11

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No, saying “these ones” or “those ones” is NOT grammatically incorrect, though many people believe the opposite to be true. Those particular phrases are often frowned upon (more so in US English than British English) but have been around for centuries in both formal and informal writing (government, linguistic, theatrical, etc. documents/ plays/ books). Though many might proclaim them to be incorrect, many linguists do not agree. The idea of those phrases being incorrect is actually relatively new from what I understand, only emerging within the last century or less.

In The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, for example, one chapter's author uses the phrase “these ones.”

To conclude, phrases such as “these ones” are NOT incorrect, but are largely stigmatized and disliked (which also does not make them incorrect, however much those people might wish that they were). They might be a bit redundant, but redundancy also does not make them incorrect.

This article from Grammarphobia covers this question with a vast assortment of historical and modern examples by scholars and other authors.

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I would say "are you talking about those?" or "are you talking about those earrings?". The latter has the benefit of specificity: it's clear what you're talking about.

As to whether or not you should avoid saying "those ones", it depends on your goals. If your goal is to mix with a high-class milieu, or project an educated image, then formal English is a good choice. If you want to fit in with average people, you might prefer to speak the same way they do. My preference is to speak as 'correctly' (as a usage prescriptivist would define correctness) as possible, but not to correct the usage of people around me, which they tend to find obnoxious. Of course, I'm a bit of an uptight jerk.

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  • It didn't occur very often in general public speech much less professional reporter, writer, announcer, or documentary narrator lexicology. At best it is imprecise language and at worst sounds nasty/stupid. A multiplicity of a pluralized singularity. IMO it SHOULD be proscribed, Yet beginning to hear professionals put it in websites,scripts, documentaries or news reports. Like virus is spreading. An example: On page of tongue twisters of site Mondly by Pearson: In fact, you probably heard THESE ONES before. OR In fact, you probably heard these before. Which is better/clearer?
    – Quisizyx
    May 31, 2023 at 21:26
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One can be made to ones. To make one into ones requires a descriptive noun to set that group apart from other groups. Thus turning one from a singular into group singular.

Example1: I like the red ones. This sets red apart from other colors.

Example2: Please put the heavy ones on the bottom. Again a single group.

HOWEVER YOU CANNOT ONLY SAY "THESE ONES" OR "THOSE ONES" CORRECTLY IN ENGLISH UNLESS CHOOSING BEYWEEN STACKS OF "ONE" DOLLAR BILLS!

1

We need look only as far as Mark Twain, in his satirical essay "Fenimore Cooper's Further Literary Offenses: Cooper's Prose Style" to find a master of his craft using "these ones" effortlessly and, it must be said, grammatically:

And I do not altogether like the phrase “while those hands which she had raised.” It seems to imply that she had some other hands—some other ones which she had put on the shelf a minute so as to give her a better chance to raise these ones; but it is not true; she had only the one pair. [Emphasis mine]

0

I'm pretty certain that "these earings" or "those shoes" is the correct vernacular. The school teacher is correct, one is a singular noun. The only way you could add an "s" to the end of one is if you were specifically describing a row of numbers all of which was "1", and "What about those ones meant. 1,1,1,1,1,1,1."

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  • Answers should be backed up with reliable references. For example, one (pronoun): one (reflexive oneself, possessive adjective one’s, plural ones)
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 13, 2020 at 21:31
  • ... Yes, the answers with authoritative, linked, attributed references are the ones most valued on ELU. Mar 14, 2020 at 15:37
-1

“These” and “those” are for more than one. The word one means only one. So, it is completely wrong to say these ones. You should not say “I like these ones.” Or “I like those ones.” It is okay to say, “I like this one.” and “I like the red ones.” Use an adjective to describe the object. This may not be a rule, however, it sounds better and makes better sense. I am a teacher and it goes right through me to hear people say this type of sentence at school while teaching children. I hear parents and clerks in stores say “These ones are good.”

  • Those children are happy.
  • Those ones are happy.

Which sentence sounds better to you?

  • These apples taste really good.
  • These ones are good.

Which sentence do you prefer?

Peggy Gillen April, 2018

-1

These ones, those ones and them ones are definitely improper English. You cannot follow a plural with a plural and each of them should be left stand-alone or followed by a noun. by saying these you actually sound uneducated.

-2

I abhor the use of these ones, those ones and them ones - it really grates on me, particularly when used on television and, worse still, on children's programmes. I'm not posh, I'm educated to, what I believe, a good standard but a standard by which I expect others of my generation to have been taught. I correct tv presenters in front of my children and grit my teeth and bite my lip in public if I here a person say it or a mother says it to her child/ren.

If there is a campaign to keep the English language usage correct please tell me and let me join!!!

Another pet hate - starting a sentence with "so" inappropriately, e.g. So, I was going to the shops when I saw a pig flying past me. I hate it but it's ok at the start of a question 'So, what are we doing today?' Again, not necessary but acceptable if moving away from a topic of conversation or attracting someone's attention.

Thank you, rant over! I'll go back to the comfort of my rock from the olden days (I'm 44) now.

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  • Hello and welcome, fellow English enthusiast! Correctness is an admirable trait in answers on this site, but we try to encourage going a step further - to substantiate the answers by either external links or logical reasoning (or, where relevant, personal experience). The idea is that readers should be able to somewhat objectively determine that an answer is correct - and not just because the respondent said it was. (Disclaimer: I'm not the down-voter.) I encourage you to continue participating on the site.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 22, 2017 at 15:16
  • 1
    There is also a meta site for discussions about the main site, as well as a chat room for more informal discussions.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 22, 2017 at 15:19
  • Lawrence:— Sorry, but THAT is a hot button with me. Have found this is another lexecological virus. Example: "The idea is THAT readers should be able to somewhat objectively determine THAT an answer is correct – and not just because a respondent said it was." OR "The idea is readers should be able to somewhat objectively determine an answer is correct – and not just because a respondent said it was." What does THAT contribute? I have found in ~60 to ~80% of occurrences simple removal does not affect the subject/concept communicated. THAT is irrelevant, worthless & non-contributing.
    – Quisizyx
    May 31, 2023 at 21:57
-2

I will be less diplomatic in my answer. Use of "these ones" and "those ones" is not only incorrect as the previous answers have pointed out, but it also makes you sound like a hillbilly. (I know I'm not supposed to express an opinion in my answer, but I challenge anyone to argue that it isn't a fact.)

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I believe it is wrong due to redundancy. When we say “these,” usually we are referring to items near us, usually with a point. Same with “those.” Adding “ones” does not help the distinction of which ones are being referred. If we say, “these red ones,” then we are specifically pointing out the ones that are red, separate from those that are other colors.

Likewise, if we say, “this one,” then we are again separating out one compared to others so the one adds helpful information to the referenced “this.” In this case, one is actually more of a noun/adjective combination in concept. Saying just, “this” with a point is not enough information to distinguish between the item on the table, the table itself, the floor, etc. usually “this one” and “that one” or “these” or “those” are in reference to an item that is found in collections. Without the context in conversation, they would not usually reference a table or floor or room. Only if specified in context visually or in prior sentences.

-2

Saying “these ones” or “those ones” is grammatically incorrect. I have been teaching for 33 years and I notice parents, my kids’ college graduate friends, storekeepers, bankers, teachers, and children using these phrases. I have heard it more in the past two years. It makes the person sound ignorant. Is it a regional way of speaking? I think not. I have read many posts and talked to people from many places. Some posts say that they can’t explain it, they just think it is wrong without knowing why. The biggest problem is that when I correct people and tell them why it is wrong, they respond with “who really cares?” The basic question is if you are talking about a plural or singular noun. “One” by definition is a single number. How can you add an “s” to the word one? This would make it plural. The word one is a singular word. It can never be considered a plural. It should never be combined with “these or those.” The word one should never have an “s” added to it. Think about it. How can one mean more than one? Just use nouns. “The dogs are so cute.” Do not say, “These ones are so cute.”

Also use adjectives.

Incorrect “I would like some peppers please.” “These ones or those ones?”

Correct “I would like three of the large, red peppers please.” “Coming right up, three red, large peppers.”

Yes this is still a problem. Peggy, February 2019

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    What happens if we are talking about a pair of earrings or shoes? "Which shoes do you like, the red or the blue ones?" If so many native speakers are using "ones" in their speech maybe you should reconsider your rigid stance. Maybe they are right and you are wrong?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 24, 2019 at 11:07
  • ‘Can you manage to stack things into a bag so that the most fragile items are on the bottom, and the heavy ones are on the top?’ which is actually a nonsensical request, if you think about it. The sample sentence, and many others using ones, is found under pronoun
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 24, 2019 at 11:10
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    -1 for the statement The word one should never have an “s” added to it it's completely untrue. ‘How could we have thought that we would be the lucky ones?’
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 24, 2019 at 11:12
  • "These" = plural determiner of "the." One can be plural. If preceded by a plural determiner, drop "ones" It's redundant. Determiner becomes a pronoun. Do you want these? Correct Redundant to add "these ones?" ..but that's not how ppl speak, and nothing in grammar prevents a speaker from being redundant in English when used for emphasis, just advised not to be.
    – Steve B053
    Feb 24, 2019 at 12:29
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    Downvoted as you say "I have been teaching for 33 years ... How can you add an “s” to the word one?" I hope you're not teaching English.
    – Greybeard
    Mar 13, 2020 at 20:43

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