What is the difference between

  • "They are bad." and
  • "Those are bad."?

What are the conditions in which you'd choose one in favor of the other. First off, I'm not sure that they aren't interchangeable. Even if they are, I can't tell if the difference is between "they" referring to people, and "those" referring to things, of if there is something about the "demonstrativeness" of the they vs. those that makes a difference, or something else.

The problem that I'm dealing with doesn't have a context that defines what people/objects the pronoun is referring to. I'm learning Swedish on Duolingo; I translated a sentence (De är dåliga.) with "Those are bad", the site claims that this is wrong, and "They are bad" is the correct translation. But mentally reviewing it, I'm not sure what/if there is a difference between these, in English. If these two are pretty much interchangeable, then I'd post a request that "my answer is correct" to the website.

Although prompted by situation involving a foreign language, my question is just about how to make sense of the difference in English, and so on-topic here.


1 Answer 1


Those imply a certain distance, as in "there" (which in Swedish would be "de där"), just like these imply a certain adjacency, as in "here" (which in Swedish would be "de här"). They is just a third-person pronoun, in its purest form, used to refer to virtually anything, be it living or still, remote or nearby (as long as it's in numbers, i.e. plural)

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