Those ones

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Dec 6 03:52:28 UTC 2002

At 11:21 AM -0800 12/5/02, Ed Keer wrote:
>I got a request to settle a grammar question today
>about the use of "those (exact) ones". My friends
>husband grew up in Oklahoma and was told to never use
>"ones" with "those". He gave her a hard time about the
>phrase "those exact ones". I have never heard of this
>prescriptive rule, but I must admit that "those ones"
>by itself sounds pretty bad to me. However, with an
>adjective it sounds fine. The following are my
>I like these cars much better than those ones. (not so
>I like these cars much better than those. (good)
>I like these green cars much better than those red
>ones. (good)
>I like these green cars much better than those red.
>(not so good)

I don't know about the prescriptive rule, but there was a descriptive
rule popular in grammars written in the late '60's (back when
theoretical linguists actually wrote grammars) that deleted "ones"
after "those" and also cardinal numbers: cf. the oddness of "three
ones", "seven ones", "one one".  There are other factors involved:
compare your first example with the much better (to me)-sounding "I
like these pens better than those ones on the left" or "...those ones
behind them", although I'll grant that "the ones" might be more
natural than "those ones" even here.


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