For the purpose of poetry, can one use "those" as a two-syllable word (tho-uhz)? Or is it always one syllable, as in normal usage?

Minimal (contrived) example of the possible, or impossible, use:

Those powerful in might,
Shall they see a greater light?

Intended to be read in exactly the same rhythm as:

They are powerful in might,
Shall they see a greater light?
  • In a ding-dong, the rules don't apply. I'm not even going to count the added 'o's in Glo – o-o-o-o-o-o – o- .... But note that no new sound is introduced, and that the overall effect has to be acceptable. May 30, 2017 at 0:04
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    Why don't you give us a sample text? May 30, 2017 at 0:32
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    Well, not really, Mikhail. Not even people with a pronounced drawal regularly pronounce those as having two syllables. You would have to mark the word as having two syllables. May 30, 2017 at 0:51
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    I’d never think to make those into two syllables as “tho-uhz”. I immediately leapt to “those’-uh”.
    – Jim
    May 30, 2017 at 0:56
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    You don't need to pronounce it as two syllables for your example to scan properly. The initial foot (in fact most feet) in many English verses can be either full feet—in this case a trochee—or reduced feet consisting of a single syllable, with no difference in scansion. The final foot in both lines in your example are also reduced feet: the underlying meter is a variation of Ionic tetrameter consisting of a repeated pyrrhic + trochee (° ° / ° . ° ° / °), but even with a full pyrrhic in the first foot, both lines still only scan as ° ° / ° . ° ° /, with the final anceps elided. May 30, 2017 at 5:02

1 Answer 1


Absolutely not. Those is made up of only three phonemes in a CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) pattern: /ðoz/*

You cannot split a single vowel in two syllables. Noöne would know which word you’d even said. When you hear someone pronounce boys as though it were two-syllable boas, understand that that occurs only in very limited accents, not in any mainstream ones.

* Sometimes written /ðoʷz/ or /ðoʊ̯z/ but let’s not confuse things.

  • Yes. But even before derhoticization monosyllables ending in -Vr (fire, hour) might be "split" into two syllables. Shakespeare at least once uses both monsyllabic and disyllabic pronunciations of fire in the same line: "As fire drives out fire, so pity pity." May 30, 2017 at 0:29
  • @StoneyB I think all the pairs like lore/lower and hire/higher always have a noticeable semi-consonant glide [j, w] at the syllabic boundary in the two-syllable versions.
    – tchrist
    May 30, 2017 at 1:48

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