A patient is complaining that the pills that he had given her a week ago don't help, so he opens a drawer, takes another pack of some other pills and says: "Try taking these ones".

Is it correct to say like this? Does it sound natural?

  • "Try these" or "Try these pills instead" would be my preference. – jbelacqua Mar 21 '11 at 17:50

Having been informed of a Question Update, here is my new answer.

(try + to V)

We use this to indicate difficulty in the activity given by the verb. for example, if some one is lying on the floor complaining of an injury to the leg, we might say

try to stand up

This indicates that, because of the purported injury, we do not yet know whether this person will be able to stand or not. Therefore, they should try and find out.

(try v-ing)

We use this when suggesting a solution to a problem. For example, if someone is beside you in the crowd of a sporting event or similar and they complain that they cannot see, you might respond

try standing up

Here you are suggesting the activity given by the verb. We know that the person is physically capable of standing up; we are suggesting that they 'try it out' to see what the results are.

Applying this to your example, 'try taking...' would appear to be correct since the doctor is probably not questioning your ability to swallow the pills but rather suggesting that they might solve your problem (i.e. make you feel better).

Hope this helps.

  • Millsom - Thank you Karl. That's exactly what I wanted. – brilliant Apr 4 '11 at 5:00
  • More than welcom, @brilliant. – Karl Apr 4 '11 at 6:14

I was always taught to use "these" instead of "these ones."

  • @jellybeanrancher -- I wasn't taught this, per se, but it is what I do. – jbelacqua Mar 21 '11 at 17:49
  • +1; I was strictly taught to say, "these" instead of "these ones" to the point of being told the latter was grammatically incorrect. – MrHen Mar 21 '11 at 18:10

Well, this is grammatically correct:

Try taking these pills.

"pills" is a plural noun
"ones" is a plural noun

Looks fine, technically, to me.

I would say it's fairly unnatural, though.

  • @advs89: Thank you. So, what would you say in this situation if you were a doctor? I need a phrase that would sound absolutely natural. – brilliant Jan 16 '11 at 4:08
  • 2
    Why not simply "Try taking these." And you could have him/her go on to explain what they are and mention side effects and such. – Adam Jan 16 '11 at 4:11
  • although when I go to the doctor, it tends to go more like: "I'm writing you a prescription for Zyrtec. You'll take it twice a day with a meal until you run out." – Adam Jan 16 '11 at 4:14
  • Doctors tend to try and sound "professional" even if it isn't completely natural, in my experience. – Adam Jan 16 '11 at 4:15
  • I think whether "these ones" sounds more natural, in a colloquial context, is dialect-related - certainly it sounds fine to me (from the south of England), but my father (from the north) used to find this strange and prefer "these". – psmears Jan 16 '11 at 9:07

It is perfectly correct to say "Try taking these ones." Also, in this situation, this statement sounds entirely natural. One might also hear, "Try these."


I think these ones rather than just these implies there's some specific attribute applicable to each of the proffered alternatives, suggesting they've been individually checked and found to have the required attribute. So a greengrocer might refer to some specially selected apples as these ones if you didn't fancy the scabby ones originally offered. But I can't see a doctor using this construct to refer to an alternative pack of pills which he presumably hasn't even opened and examined.


I agree with @FumbleFingers that the inclusion of 'ones' seems to add emphasis on a difference between the old pills and the new (ones).

I'm not quite sure why there is so much question over 'these ones' from the other posters as I have always thought it ok. Nevertheless, if you really do want to avoid it but still want to emphasise the difference, maybe go for:

Try these instead.

If I asked which one should I choose, you might answer:

Try these

If I then tried them and they were no good and I asked for a replacement, you might respond:

Try these instead

Just to reiterate, I see no problem with 'these ones' and would even be happy with:

Try these ones instead

  • I wasn't specific enough when I was asking this question, and, therefore, the answers that I have received here have mostly dealt with another aspect of my question, which also turned out to be quite interesting. However, my original intention was to find out whether "try taking" was grammatically and stylistically correct. Somebody had told me that using an "on- ing -ending" verb right after "try" was not a good choice of words, especially if it's the verb "taking" in the sense of receiving something into one's body (like swallowing medicine). – brilliant Apr 3 '11 at 20:38

"These ones" is never OK. There is no "sometimes". it's simply wrong. The "ones" element is redundant. It's "these" or "those" (for plurals), and "this" or "that" for singular items. It's not "those ones" or "these ones". If it were correct to say or write "these ones", surely we'd also have people also saying "thems twos" (God forbid).

  • 1
    Pleonasms are a matter of style and are often found in everyday speech. They aren't necessarily "wrong". Also, the question asked about speaking and sound, not writing. Still, I see no problem with this construction in the written word, though clearly some find it grating. – Zairja Jun 26 '14 at 18:59

protected by tchrist Jun 26 '14 at 18:07

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