This, that, these, those: demonstratives

English has four demonstratives: thisthatthesethose.

A demonstrative tells us about the location of something relative to our position.

The word demonstrate means to show or to indicate, so thisthatthese and those show us how near or far something is. Near and far can refer to distance or time.

Demonstratives
near to us far from us
singular this
This book
= the book here
that
That book
= the book there
plural these
These books
= the books here
those
Those books
= the books there

 demonstratives this that these those

Here are some examples:

  • Look! These pears are much cheaper than those oranges. Let’s buy the pears.
  • These days most people have a car. But in those days—when I was a child—no one owned a car.

 

The difference between demonstrative determiners and demonstrative pronouns

Although they are the same words (this, that, these, those), there is a difference in usage between demonstrative determiners and demonstrative pronouns:

  • A demonstrative determiner sits together with a noun: that car, that red car, those people, those old people, etc.
  • A demonstrative pronoun isn’t used with a noun – it only represents a noun: that is right, this tastes good, those are big houses, etc.

Compare:

Is this pen yours? (demonstrative determiner)
Is this your pen? (demonstrative pronoun)

These buildings are really tall. (demonstrative determiner)
These are really tall buildings. (demonstrative pronoun)

See also: Demonstrative pronouns >>

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