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I always thought that "them" was used as a pronoun refering to people, while "it" was used to refer to things. I came across this sentence though:

"Medical studies are providing increasing evidence that alternative therapies are beneficial, and patients are gradually demanding them."

(this sentence is grammatically correct according to english books)

"them" is refering to alternative therapies. This is not a person. Shouldn't it be "...gradually demanding it"?

So can someone help me understand when and when not to use "them" and "it"?
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Hi,

'Them' can be used for both persons and things. I'm surprised that you were taught otherwise.

Were you then also taught that 'they' (the subjective case) should only be for persons? Again, not true.

Best wishes, Clive
thanks!

if both "them" and "it" can be refered to things, which of the two is better to use? Are both grammatically correct?
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Hi,

it = one thing

them = more than one thing

eg I put some coins on my desk. When I picked them up, one fell on the floor. I couldn't find it.

Best wishes, Clive
thank you! Ur explanations are clear and helpful Emotion: rock
by the way, can you help me with another similar problem?

When and when not should I use "them" and "those"? (compare)

I know "those" can be an adjective and a pronoun, and "them" can only be a pronoun. If both can be used as a pronoun for things, how will I know which of the two to use?

I know it's easy when I go by ear, but I was just curious if there is any rule, like "them" and "it".

//: Is there any rule with "them" and "those" when it is the object of the preposition. For example, "It was reported that the identities of those to be called witnesses would be released" and "behind them" both work. Besides knowing from experience, how can I know when to use the two?

thanks again XD
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Hi again,

When and when not should I use "them" and "those"? (compare)



I know "those" can be an adjective and a pronoun, and "them" can only be a pronoun. If both can be used as a pronoun for things, how will I know which of the two to use?

Rather than a long discussion, let me just offer a few comments.

Let's consider speaking. Generally, think of using 'those' when you can accompany the words by pointing to things that are not near.

eg (in a shoe store) I don't like these (pointing to shoes that are near me) but I like those (pointing to shoes that are on the other side of the store).

In addition to physically close things that you can point to, the word can also refer to things that have already been indicated, named or understood.

eg Do you remember the shoes Mary was wearing last Saturday? I liked those'.

'Them' does not involve this concept of propinquity.



I know it's easy when I go by ear, but I was just curious if there is any rule, like "them" and "it".



//: Is there any rule with "them" and "those" when it is the object of the preposition. For example, "It was reported that the identities of those to be as called witnesses would be released" and "behind them" both work. Besides knowing from experience, how can I know when to use the two? This is a trickier type of situation, in which experience really helps. However, when you think about it, your example of 'those to be called as witnesses . . .' really involves naming or indicating a group of people, as I described earlier, so it's the same principle.

Best wishes, Clive
XD: I've just been thinking about the differences, and trying to come to some guidelines. Here it goes...

Those can introduce a relative clause; them cannot.
Those can be used in nominative case; them cannot.

Examples:

I like those who tell the truth. (Introduce a clause)

These cherries are good, but those are better. (nominative)

As an object, "them" can stand alone, those often cannot, and must be used in its adjective or relative pronoun form.

I sent them a letter. (OK)

I sent those a letter. (wrong)
I sent those students a letter. (OK)
I sent those who answered my survey a letter. (OK)

I sent a letter to them. (OK)

I sent a letter to those. (wrong.)
I sent a letter to those who were on the list.(OK)

I did the job for them.(OK)
I did the job for those. (wrong)
I did the job for those people. (OK)

I did the job for those who gave me a dollar. (OK)

In comparatives, these and those are used:

I like these apples better than those. (OK)
I like these apples better than them. (wrong).

Maybe others will help, too. [EDIT] I see that Clive gave you a good answer while I was working on mine! Thanks, Clive!

All the best,
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