They vs These vs Those

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What’s the difference between them?

They

Meaning:

They is a third-person plural pronoun used to refer to a group of people or things previously mentioned or easily identified.

Examples:

1.They went to the beach for the weekend.

2.They bought a new car last month.

3.They are visiting from out of town.

These

Meaning:

These refers to people or things that are close to us.

Examples:

1. These are the shoes I want to buy.

2. I was so pleased to receive these gifts.

3. These are the results of the experiment.

Those

Meaning:

Those refer to people or things that are far away from us.

Examples:

1. Those people across the street seem to be having a lot of fun.

2. I'm not sure which of those movies I want to watch.

3. Those shoes go perfectly with your outfit.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference

Synonyms

Antonyms

They

There are no direct synonyms for this word.

There are no direct antonyms for this word.

These

There are no direct synonyms for this word.

Those

Those

There are no direct synonyms for this word.

These

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "They", "These", "Those".

1. Remember that 'these' refers to something that is close to you, 'those' refers to something that is farther away, and 'they' refers to a group of people or things.

2. Look for clues in the sentence. If the sentence reads 'These cats are playing,' then you know that you are referring to something close by.

3. Try using the words in a sentence. For example, 'These cats are playing, but those cats are sleeping.' This will help you to visualize when to use each word.

4. Make a chart to compare and contrast the words. For example, make a table that has 'these' on one side, 'those' on the other, and 'they' in the center. Then next to each word, list what situations each word is used in. This will help you to remember the difference between the words.

Check the full list of commonly confused words in English

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Frequently asked questions

When to use the first word?

The word 'they' is a personal pronoun, which means it can be used in place of a person’s name when talking about them. It is used when talking about a group of people or an individual whose gender is unknown or irrelevant. For example, 'They are coming to the party.'

When to use the second word?

The word 'these' is a demonstrative pronoun, meaning it is used to point out or demonstrate something specific. It is used to refer to people or objects that are nearby. For example, 'These are my friends.'

When to use the third word?

The word 'those' is also a demonstrative pronoun, but it is used to refer to people or objects that are farther away. It is also used to refer to people or objects that are not present. For example, 'Those are my parents.'

Do the words have the same pronunciation?

No, the words 'they,' 'these,' and 'those' are not pronounced the same way. 'They' is pronounced as /ðeɪ/, 'these' is pronounced as /ðiːz/ and 'those' is pronounced as /ðoʊz/.

What are common mistakes associated with words 'they,' 'these,' and 'those'?

One of the most common mistakes associated with words 'they,' 'these,' and 'those' is using them interchangeably. While they all have similar meanings, they are used in different contexts and should not be used interchangeably. Another common mistake is using 'they' to refer to a single person. The word 'they' is only used to refer to a group of people or an individual whose gender is unknown or irrelevant.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. ___ are my friends: John, Lisa, and Sarah.

2. Have you seen ___ shoes anywhere? I cant find them.

3. ___ students over there are from the other class.

4. ___ are the pencils I bought yesterday.

5. How do you know ___ people at the entrance?

6. ___ is a list of the items you requested.

7. Are ___ the books you were referring to in your lecture?

8. ___ seem to be enjoying the party a lot.

9. I dont recognize ___ paintings on the wall. Are they new?

1. These are my friends: John, Lisa, and Sarah.

Explanation: These is used to refer to specific people or things close at hand or being indicated or experienced. In this case, its introducing friends who are presumably nearby or being directly indicated.

2. Have you seen these shoes anywhere? I cant find them.

Explanation: These refers to specific items that are close at hand or being indicated. The speaker is inquiring about shoes presumably nearby or recently discussed.

3. Those students over there are from the other class.

Explanation: Those refers to people or things that are farther away in distance or time. Here, its used to indicate students who are not close by, but over there.

4. These are the pencils I bought yesterday.

Explanation: The speaker is indicating pencils that are presumably nearby or in hand.

5. How do you know those people at the entrance?

Explanation: The speaker is asking about people at a distance (at the entrance) but not immediately close.

6. This is a list of the items you requested.

Explanation: This is used to refer to a singular noun or the noun it modifies. Here, it refers to a single list.

7. Are these the books you were referring to in your lecture?

Explanation: The speaker is asking about books, presumably in close proximity, or being indicated.

8. They seem to be enjoying the party a lot.

Explanation: They is a pronoun used to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified. In this case, its referring to a group of people mentioned in the context.

9. I dont recognize those paintings on the wall. Are they new?

Explanation: The speaker doesnt recognize paintings which are presumably on a distant wall or not directly next to them.

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Download the PDF with a list of commonly confused words made as flashcards for comfortable learning.

List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.