pronouns: this, that, these and those

Why do we use this and these?

We use this (singular) and these (plural) as pronouns:

- to talk about people or things near us:

This is a nice cup of tea.
Whose shoes are these?

- to introduce people:

This is Janet.
These are my friends, John and Michael.

We don’t say These are John and Michael.
We say This is John and this is Michael.

- to introduce ourselves to begin a conversation on the phone:

Hello, this is David, Can I speak to Sally?

Why do we use that and those?

We use that (singular) and those (plural):

- to talk about things that are not near us:

What’s that?
This is our house, and that’s Rebecca’s house over there.
Those are very expensive shoes.

- We also use that to refer back to something someone said or did:

  • - Shall we go to the cinema?
    - Yes, that’s a good idea.
  • - I’ve got a new job.
    - That’s great.
  • - I’m very tired.
    - Why is that?

this, these, that, those with nouns

We also use this, these, that and those with nouns to show proximity

We use this and these for people or things near us:

We have lived in this house for twenty years.
Have you read all of these books?

… and that and those for people or things that are not near us:

Who lives in that house?
Who are those people?




What are these?
They are my posters. (it's in the text book)

What are these?
These are my posters. (is this variant possible?)

ps to get the comment page i need to write a comment in any case + verify it,
why can't i reply to a person directly?
VERY inconvenient

Hello JuliaF,

I think the earlier answer deals with this very clearly. As Kirk said, we use 'these' when we want to distinguish between two alternatives. We would only say 'These are my posters' if we have, for example, several groups of posters and we want to say 'these are mine, not those'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Here is the Q

The exercise:

Look here.What are_________? Are THEY computer games???

Why do we use THEY instead of THESE in the third sentence??

ps: in this exrs you need to put this, that, these or those
this part i dont understand

Would you help me, please?
reply ASAP pls

Hello Julia,

Demonstratives such as 'these' are normally only used when we need to clearly indicate which object we are referring to versus another object. In this case, perhaps there are some red boxes and some yellow boxes on a table in a shop. You point to the red ones that are near you and use 'these' to refer to them; if you were referring to the yellow boxes that are farther away, you'd say 'those'.

After that, it's clear which boxes you are speaking about, so you should just use a normal pronoun such as 'they'.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

How can we introduce ourselves on the phone. If I say on the phone, "Hello, it's rushil this side", will I be wrong ?

Hello Rushil,

That's not a standard way of answering the phone in British or American English, though it might be used in other places. Instead, I'd recommend 'Hello, this is Rushil' or 'Hello, Rushil speaking'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hello staff,
Thank you for your pretty and useful job that you are doing here

Can we use "that" and "those" to talk about people? you mentioned that for "this" and these" but not for "that" and "those".

Hello Ayman,

'that' and 'those' can be used before nouns that are people (e.g. 'those people over there', 'that woman next to Ali'). They can also be used as pronouns in some cases (e.g. 'that is my sister' when you are indicating someone) but in general situations, 'he' or 'she' or 'they' are used instead.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Above, it explains that we use "This" to introduce ourselves on the phone. In a previous topic, it was explained that we use "it" as in " It is Jone" when on the phone. Could you please elaborate more on the differences in usage?