Blog Grammar Rules These: Definition and Meaning

These: Definition and Meaning

Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Published Feb 11, 2022
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These article cover image

The word “these” can have several possible uses. If you’re studying or writing in the English language, you’ll need to know the different roles this word can play in a sentence.

Read on to learn the meaning of “these” and the different ways you can use it.

Contents:
  1. Definition of These
  2. Meaning of These
  3. Examples of These in a Sentence

Definition of These

“These” is the plural noun form of the word “this.” It’s a determiner or pronoun that we use to point to a specific group of people or things.

Meaning of these

Meaning of These

Let’s take a closer look at how we use the word “these” in real life.

Pointing to Things Close at Hand

One common way to use the word “these” is to refer to a group of people or things that are close at hand.

For example, if you’re showing someone around your house and your cats are in the same room, you might say, “These are my cats, Mittens and Whiskers.” You can use the pronoun “these” to describe your cats because they’re in the immediate vicinity.

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Referring to Things Previously Mentioned

Another way to use “these” is to refer to a group of things that have already been mentioned or identified. For example, you might say, “Everyone always makes fun of how red my hair is. I’m really sick of hearing these mean jokes.” In this scenario, it’s clear that the word “these” refers to the jokes about the speaker’s red hair because they’ve recently been mentioned in the conversation.

Introducing Things You’re Going to Talk About

We also use “these” to introduce groups of things we’re about to talk about. For example, you might say, “These are my favorite ice cream flavors: green tea, pistachio, and mint chocolate chip.” Here, the function of the word “these” is to set up the sentence for this list of flavors.

With such lists, you’ll want to use the right determiner and that can only be the plural “these.” For example, “This are my favorite ice cream flavors...” would be incorrect because we use this is for a singular item and these are for multiple items. If this ever gets confusing, use ProWritingAid:

ProWritingAid's grammar checker correcting these

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Within a Common Expression

Finally, we sometimes use the word “these” within the phrase “these days,” which means “at the present time.” For example, you might say, “I’m sorry I haven’t had time to reply to your email. I’ve been very busy these days.

Ways to use 'these'

Examples of These in a Sentence

We’ve compiled some examples of the word “these” used in popular English language novels. Take a look and see if you can figure out the role the word “these” plays in each of the following examples.

  • “There are places to get a meal after hours, but none of these places particularly suit Chandresh’s tastes.”—The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Extract from the Night Circus

  • “I have been birds and branches. I have been bees and wolves. I have been ether flooding the void between stars, tangling their breath into networks of song. I have been fish and plankton and humus, and all these have been me.”—This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

  • “We try so hard to make these little time capsules. Memories strung up just so, like holiday lights, casting the perfect glow in the perfect tones.”—The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

  • “A match struck alight in a dark hallway, the lit tip of a cigarette smoked in bed at midnight, embers in a dying chimney: none of these things has enough light of its own to reveal anything.”—Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

  • “It was neither green nor blue but encompassed both of these, like dark glass.”—The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

  • “The sun still hadn’t risen. Maybe it never would. Maybe the sky was sick of these endless costume changes: casting off cloak after cloak, but never revealing what it wore under all those cloaks.”—All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

  • “Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so. I feel I have the right to tell you this because, as I am inscribing these words, I am doing the same.”—Exhalation by Ted Chiang

  • “I will keep on eating and drinking, going on. These actions will filibuster my mortal end, which I will be permitted to achieve only when my body gives out.”—Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

  • These days, it feels to me like you make a devil’s pact when you walk into this country.”—White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Extract from White Teeth

  • “It’s already close to pitch-black when I arrive at home, and it’s not even five p.m. I despise these days: the darkness of the darkest part of winter.”—Long Bright River by Liz Moore

A Quick Recap on These

These is a determiner that shows a specific group of people or things. It’s the plural form of the word this. It has several functions:

  1. pointing out things that are close by
  2. referring to things previously mentioned
  3. introducing things
  4. forming part of common expressions

There you have it: the meaning of the word “these” and all the different ways you can use it. Was this article helpful? Let us know in the comments.


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Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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