English Language Tips and Tricks: Who or Whom, This or These?

“I hate when people don’t know the difference between your and you’re. Their so stupid!”, was one of our recent Facebook posts and many of you have agreed that English can be quite complicated, although we all think we know it perfectly. So today we are bringing you a few English language tips and tricks! This blog post is a friendly reminder of when to use who and whom, what’s the difference among this, that, these and those and some other English language nuances that can make a big difference.

 

English Language Tips and Tricks:  Who or whom?jezični-savjeti-iz-engleskog-jezika-he_who

Let’s start with something easy, take a look at the table below:

jezični-savjeti-iz-engleskog-jezika-who-whom-EN

 

Why does this table help you understand the difference immediately? If you can replace WHO with any of the subject pronouns underneath it, you have a correct sentence. The same applies to the use of WHOM. This is because WHO is one of the subject pronouns, and WHOM is one of the object pronouns. Here are a few examples:

english-language-tips-and-tricks-examples

We have the exact same thing in Croatian. Here:

english-language-tips-and-tricks-examples-HR

You see, it’s actually quite simple in Croatian as well.

 

English Language Tips and Tricks:  This or these?

english-language-tips-and-tricks-etymology

The picture above will help you find your way around this and that, these and those. As soon as you imagine that THIS and THESE are for all objects that are near you, and THAT and THOSE for all objects farther away from you, everything will become crystal clear.

For example: If you want to say you like someone’s shirt, and that person is standing next to you, you will say:

  • “Oh, this is a beautiful shirt!”

And if that person is standing at the other end of the room, you will say:

  • “Oh, that is a beautiful shirt!”

We have the same thing in Croatian with pronouns “ovaj, taj, onaj”. We should use “ovaj” when something is near us, “taj” when something is next to the person we are talking to, and “onaj” when talking about something that is far away or out of sight. They are called proximal, medial and distal in Croatian language. Appropriate, isn’t it?

 

English Language Tips and Tricks:  Then or than?

english-language-tips-and-tricks-then-than

The difference between THAN and THEN is huge and it makes a significant difference in a sentence. THAN is used for making comparisons, while THEN is used as a time conjunction. This is something that is mostly familiar so here are only two examples:

  • THAN: Her ex-boyfriend thinks he is better than her current one.
  • THEN: I will come to your house and then we will go to town to get a cup of coffee.

There are some sentences we need to be careful about. In the examples above, even if the word is spelled incorrectly, we know what someone wanted to say. This is not the case with the phrase RATHER THAN / RATHER THEN. Let’s take a look:

  • I would rather eat pizza than a hamburger.
  • I would rather eat pizza then a hamburger.

The first sentence means that you prefer pizza to hamburger, and that you would rather eat the former. The second sentence, however, means that you have a good appetite, and that you would eat pizza first, and a hamburger after the pizza. Here is a little reminder:

english-language-tips-and-tricks-then-than

 

 

English Language Tips and Tricks: That or which?

Let’s try to explain this in the easiest way possible. THAT gives essential information and is used WITHOUT A COMMA. WHICH does not limit the meaning of the sentence. If we remove it, we lose details but not the meaning. It is separated WITH COMMAS. Check out the example bellow:

 

  • He didn’t read the newspapers that came today.

This means that he DID read the newspapers, just not the ones that came today. If we remove “that came today”, the sentence would have a completely different meaning. It would only state that he didn’t read the newspapers.

Check out the next sentence:

  • He didn’t read the newspapers, which came today.

This means that he didn’t read the newspapers, and that those newspapers he didn’t read came today. If we remove “which came today”, the meaning of the sentence wouldn’t be changed. He didn’t read the newspapers either way, WHICH only explains what kind of papers they are à today’s / new newspapers.

We have the same thing in Croatian, even though we don’t express it with a different word, we express it only with commas. Look at the examples:

  • Nije pročitao novine koje su danas stigle.
  • Nije pročitao novine, koje su danas stigle.

The first sentence means that he did read the newspapers, just not the ones that came today. Maybe he read those from yesterday or two days ago. The second sentence means that he didn’t read the newspapers, and what kind of newspapers were they. Meaning that, if we remove the part of the sentence after the comma, we would lose some details but not the meaning of the sentence.

Let’s sum this up, shall we?

jezični-savjeti-iz-engleskog-jezika-tablica-EN

To conclude, English and Croatian languages are not that different as it may appear at first glance. The most important thing is to UNDERSTAND these rules and question their use in sentences when you are not sure what to use. A few tricks have been listed but if you have a couple more, feel free to share your knowledge with us!

Ana Mertz

Ana is a Master of English Language and Literature and Croatian Language and Literature Education. In Sinonim, she translates, edits and proofreads texts. She loves to read, enjoys travelling, doing puzzles and can watch the entire season of a TV show in one day.

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