Mary Mary Quite Contrary
East Virginia Blues

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 26

Red hot pokers in appalachia

In Appalachia the word them is often used where the word those should be used. 

  • those can be used as an adjective or as a pronoun
  • them is a pronoun and should never be used as an adjective


Correct usage: Those are the pants I want you to hem.

Incorrect usage: Them are the pants I want you to hem.

Correct usage: Hand me some of those crackers to eat with my soup.

Incorrect usage: Hand me some of them crackers to eat with my soup. 


If I'm speaking I use them in the place of those-just like the incorrect usage above. If I'm writing I use both words correctly most of the time. I guess when I write or type I give the words more thought than when I'm talking. 

This usage is also common in parts of the British Isles. 


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I've heard "them" used in these contexts many times from my Grandmothers. Also interchanging "saw" and "seen" and "was" and "were."

Yes, Them there words are often mixed up over here too. Real countrymen sometimes throw 'they' into the mix as well. They old teachers don't like it but that's the way us says it.

When I am around my folks from home I am apt to slide a them in there once in a while. Just sounds more natural!

Seen and saw are two words I hear used incorrectly also.
Folks say "I seen something" instead of I saw it.

I know the difference too, but when I'm
talkin' I say things the way I was
raised. Back when I was in High School
some of my teachers taught us the more
proper way to talk, I only used it in
book reports though...Ken

We are bound by coloquial usage. When I began to use them and those correctly, I was accused of being "uppity" and "dedicated"'or "showin' off"--neither of which was very complimentary. So I soon learned to whom to speak what! Takes a little switcho--change, but works rather well.

Well that just makes cents. We say what we here. We right what we see. Wright?

Buy the weigh, yew should use common usage instead of correct usage in describing how our besters speak.

Awww - that's just plain country talk. Heard it, and used it, all my childhood - somewhere around High School I became more careful about how I talked - - had lots of teachers who were determined to get the wrinkles out of my persona.

Them are some purty "Red Hot Pokers"....Have you checked out the ones around the silo this year! Those were awfully red all over when I happened on them that year of the visit to Murphy "find me" photos...Remember!
I wonder if soil change makes a difference in the depth and tint of the red color? Mine are blooming but them yeller ones didn't send up a stalk so far. The plant has divided itself as it has two sets of leaves sprouted up..(kinda like a daylily) so maybe it will send up a bloom.
I never liked to get "poked at" for using incorrect Anglish! Just tell me the difference and if I feel like it, I might change my words or dialect. But, then again I might not! I can speak it when I want to...but most of the time I am just having fun with it and remembering the olden days. Back in the day when some of those foreigners from up North moved in to Oak Ridge, they thought none of us could talk. Especially, those (childrens parents) that had moved there from the mountains to work. The local teachers were good with it, but some of the (sorry to say, Yankee ones) they hired, just couldn't stand it. The harder they worked to teach proper English, the more the local teachers let us have our funny! Also, I do remember a boy moving in from the Bronx New York, and he gave one of our local teachers a fit with his slang...Guess, we just all need to learn to live and talk together the best we can. In the end will it really matter! I don't think so!
Thanks Tipper,
Them were some good sentences and examples you used! Don't let anybody be a poking fun at your culture...unless it is a Poker Plant!

I think those and them are often used in oral speech incorrectly. As a former teacher, I would probably pick up on the usage, but I can see it happening when someone has grown up with certain words being used in their formative years. Writing the words correctly probably has to do with schooling and formal education. I have to say that you certainly come up with some interesting topics.

I think I use both words correctly....most of the time. I sure have heard them used in place of those a lot. If memory serves me correctly this is one of the grammatical uses my mother pounded in to me as a child.

It has been quite a while, but I have heard it used in a sentence more like this. Hand me some of 'em 'ar crackers to eat with my soup.

Interesting,, trying to spellem like I sayem is the hard part....

Don't forget - "Your momma & 'em doin' alright?".

Funny, I use both words interchangeably. I think it depends on who I am talking to.

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